NBC Lines Up Fewer NHL Telecasts For '17-18; McDavid, Matthews Get Only Three Games
NBC Sports yesterday unveiled its '17-18 NHL regular-season TV schedule, with 99 games set for the two networks, down from a record-high 106 last year. While there is a heavy dose of Blackhawks, Penguins and Flyers on U.S. TV, the Maple Leafs and Oilers -- led by C Auston Matthews and reigning MVP C Connor McDavid, respectively -- each have only three appearances. The defending champion Penguins gets things started on Oct. 4 on NBCSN against the Blues. The cable net's highlights also include the Red Wings' first regular-season game at the new Little Caesars Arena and the Golden Knights' inaugural home game in Las Vegas. The Blackhawks lead all clubs with 17 total appearances on NBC or NBCSN, followed by the Penguins and Flyers with 16. Every U.S. team will make a regular-season appearance. The Predators will appear on national TV a franchise-record five times (THE DAILY).
AS SEEN ON TV: On Long Island, Neil Best notes the Rangers will be "featured on three of the nine regular-season games to be shown on NBC," including the Jan. 1 Winter Classic against the Sabres at Citi Field. The Rangers will "appear on a total of 14 games on NBC or NBCSN." The Islanders are "scheduled for only one." There are "no national television games scheduled between Feb. 7 and 28," coinciding with the '18 PyeongChang Games (NEWSDAY, 8/1). In Pittsburgh, Chris Adamski noted nearly 20% of Penguins games this season "will be available to national television audiences" (TRIBLIVE.com, 7/31). In Las Vegas, Steve Carp notes the Golden Knights will "be televised five times" nationally, all on NBCSN (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 8/1). In Raleigh, Chip Alexander writes while there has been "much chatter" about the Hurricanes’ offseason changes and "having a young team -- 'on the rise' being a popular phrase -- that should be exciting, NBC Sports is scheduled to show them just once" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/1). NHL Network’s Jamison Coyle said of the increase in games for the Predators, “When you make it as far as Nashville did -- Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final -- guess what? You get to play a little more on national television in the following season" ("NHL Tonight," NHL Net, 7/31).
REMEMBER THE NORTH! YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski noted NBC is calling its '17-18 slate the "'most diverse NHL schedule ever' in its inclusion of Canadian teams." This is "completely accurate, given how low the bar was set." Increased ratings for the '17 Stanley Cup Playoffs "apparently convinced NBC Sports overlords that, yes, a Canadian team can actually draw decent numbers, provided it has a star player and is placed in a compelling matchup against an American team that can drive a national rating." Telecasts for the Canadiens "doubled from four last season to eight this season." The Senators have not had a regular-season game on NBCSN for "at least the last three seasons, and gets one via the NHL100 Classic outdoor game this December vs. the Habs." Wyshynski noted NBC is only giving viewers three games with Matthews, the "best American-born center to hit the NHL in nearly 30 years." This is "still a problem with the NHL as a whole on U.S. television: a complete lack of confidence in the product itself to draw in casual fans, which leads to overreliance on major markets." This ends up "hurting the product even more because we miss out on the artistry of players like McDavid and Matthews in the U.S. while being oversaturated by teams like the Flyers and Bruins" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/31).