NBC To Begin NHL Coverage Saturday As Broadcast Partners Release Coverage Plans
NBC Sports Group will air 70 NHL regular-season games across NBC and NBC Sports Network this season. The schedule includes 14 exclusive windows (15 games) on NBC, as well as 24 exclusive windows (26 exclusive games) on NBCSN. NBC will air three games this coming weekend, beginning with coverage of the Kings' Stanley Cup championship ceremony on Saturday at 3:00pm ET and continuing with regional coverage of either Blackhawks-Kings or Penguins-Flyers (NBC). YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski gave his "winners and losers" for NBC's schedule on NBC Sports. Among the "winners" were the Devils and Kings. Wyshynski wrote despite losing LW Zach Parise to free agency and "being picked by many to miss the postseason after making the Cup Final, the Devils appear on NBCSN as many times as they did all of last season and get two games against the Rangers on NBC." The Kings "triple their appearances on NBC after winning the Cup last season, including an 'opening day' afternoon affair against Chicago that much of the country will see." The Hurricanes were a "loser" in the TV schedule -- the team has no appearances on NBCSN despite adding C Jordan Staal and LW Alexander Semin (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/13). SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted NBC "will debut a state-of-the-art International Broadcast Center from Stamford, Conn where its hockey pre and post game shows will be filmed." NBC's Mike Emrick said of viewers returning after the lockout, "At the end of the day, it's a great sport and I think they [fans] will come. So you can say I am one of the radicals who believes they will come back right away. I hope I will be proven right" (SI.com, 1/13).
RETURN A POSITIVE FOR NBCSN: BROADCASTING & CABLE’s Jon Lafayette reports the NHL's return is “especially good for the NBC Sports Network, which took a big hit from the lockout.” The net “had to buy programming to replace the NHL” during the work stoppage. The NHL “brought a certain level of circulation to the network," and not having it "hurt other shows.” However, the 48-game season “doesn’t necessarily mean that spending will stay the same with sponsors buying more spots per game.” NBC Sports Group Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Seth Winter said, “Advertisers want certain unit loads in games. If they think that three or four units a game is the right amount of exposure to have in a game, they’re not just going to buy eight units and move them up.” Lafayette notes it “remains to be seen how much media spending the league’s official sponsors will have to commit to in a truncated season.” NBC now “has to get back in the market to revive interest and convince sponsors that hockey is a good investment.” The net is fortunate that the league is "expected to have a full playoff schedule.” Winter said that once the playoffs start, it will be “business as usual because sponsors already have their budgets in place” (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 1/14 issue).
HIGHLIGHTS FOR OTHER TV PARTNERS: The CBC on Saturday will begin its coverage of 49 regular-season games with Senators-Jets at 3:00pm. The net will have 10 Original Six pairings and 18 all-Canadian match-ups. TSN will air 42 regular-season games nationally, with all of those games featuring at least one Canadian team. The net's coverage begins Jan. 22 with Jets-Capitals at 7:00pm, followed by Sharks-Oilers at 10:00pm. TSN and TSN2's regular-season schedule showcasing non-Canadian teams has yet to be released. NHL Network will televise 78 live games, with a focus on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The schedule features eight double-headers. seven triple-headers and one quadruple-header. NHL Network on Saturday nights will continue to simulcast the CBC's "HNIC" (THE DAILY).
AN INTERESTING IDEA: With Brian Burke being ousted from the Maple Leafs' front office last week, the BOSTON GLOBE's Kevin Paul Dupont has a suggestion for his next job. Dupont wrote, "Provided he is willing to take a substantial cut in pay, he could take safe harbor in a broadcast booth or studio." A Burke-Mike Milbury tandem "during NBC broadcasts has pay-per-view potential, with a dash of Jeremy Roenick perhaps playing an accelerant to the broadcast bonfire" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/13).