SBD/November 19, 2013/Media

NBCSN To Air All-Access NHL Series Around Stadium Games, Sochi Olympics

The series will initially feature the Kings and Ducks ahead of their outdoor game
The NHL yesterday announced that it will "cooperate with the production and airing of an all-access TV series that will feature players, coaches and support staff as they prepare" for the '14 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series contests and the '14 Sochi Games, according to Helene Elliott of the L.A. TIMES. The seven-part series, called "NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other," begins Jan. 22 on NBCSN and will "initially feature the Kings and Ducks as they prepare for their Stadium Series game on Jan. 25 at Dodger Stadium." Episodes will "air on NBCSN on Jan. 22, Jan. 29, Feb. 5, Feb. 27 (two hours), March 5 and March 12." The episodes also will "air in Canada on the CBC a day later (except for Feb. 27, when it will be seen the same day), and will be rebroadcast in Canada on Sportsnet." NHL COO John Collins said, "There’s been a strong desire to do a lot more of this type of programming. We love the sport, we admire the players, and we want to take all that and put it onscreen for the fans." The concept of the series is "modeled on the HBO '24/7' series," but unlike the original, the NBCSN show will include "some bleeping of raw language ... because of broadcast standards on the networks that will air this show." Show Exec Producer Ross Greenburg said, "You have teammates that are going to become rivals once the Sochi Olympics happen, which is fascinating. So that [Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews and RW Patrick Kane] end up as rivals on the other side of the ice from each other, so that dynamic should be fascinating to cover" (LATIMES.com, 11/18).

ATTENTION GRABBING
: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds noted in addition to the seven TV hours, "a 'director’s cut,' including the game’s often colorful language, will likely land on digital platforms," although the digital plan "was not specifically outlined." Collins said that digital footage could "serve as a preview of sorts leading into the linear TV bow, with other content perhaps following the TV debuts of the different installments." He said that int'l rights-holders have "expressed interest in the series" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 11/18). Collins said of the series, "This is part of the overall plan, the big plan on how to continue to build hockey, to make it more national, to get more people to pay attention to it." Greenburg said that the atmosphere at the outdoor games is "electric and the players respond accordingly." Greenburg added that creates "an appetizing recipe for quality television." Greenburg: "The anticipation of those games and story lines leading into these games gives us unique story lines to cover. And then we will kick off the end of the series by anticipating the playoff run" (USA TODAY, 11/19). On Long Island, Neil Best notes the IOC "has its own very particular rules for access during the Games, but the expectation is that the path will be eased by NBC's status as a longtime Olympics rights-holder" (NEWSDAY, 11/19).

READY FOR PRIMETIME PLAYERS: Collins said that it was "past time for the NHL to use the Olympics to better promote its players." Collins said, "Through all the debate about whether we should be there as a League or not be there. We’re there. It’s a great platform. We should try to take better advantage of it while we’re there." Collins said of whether "NHL Revealed" in addition to "24/7" might be overkill, Collins said, "Again, I see so much opportunity to grow the profile of the sport. I look at other sports that do this on a weekly basis … I think with the quality of the athletes, the quality of the game and the quality of the storytellers, I hope people don’t feel that way" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/18).  In N.Y., Pat Leonard notes Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist and Islanders C John Tavares are "expected to be among the featured players" on the program, along with Toews, Kane, Penguins C Sidney Crosby, Canucks C Henrik Sedin, Canucks LW Daniel Sedin and Kings G Jonathan Quick (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/19). The NHL said that NBC Sports Group and CBC are "contributing to the production costs of the series but are not paying any rights fees" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/19).

FROZEN FESTIVITIES: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Christopher Botta noted the Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown this year is "essentially a restart for the league after its earlier attempts to make the game a franchise were halted by last season’s lockout." The Rangers-Bruins game will take place the day after Thanksgiving on NBC. Neither Discover nor the NHL is "tinkering much with the recipe" from the '11 game, which "drew a 0.9 national rating." The one major promotional change is "the addition of a series of commercials directed by Bobby Farrelly," featuring appearances from Bruins President and Hockey HOFer Cam Neely, former NHLer Mike Richter and actor Lenny Clarke. Neely and Richter also will "ride on a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float that will promote the game." The 36-by-20-foot float, "returning from its use in 2011, is themed 'Frozen Fall Fun' and also will have young hockey players skating on a synthetic rink, with a 12-foot-tall turkey framing a goal" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/18 issue).
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