NBC Hopes To Make Wednesday Nights Must-See For Hockey Fans
Hockey fans have "often criticized NBC's coverage for not showing more of the NHL's young stars and the up-and-coming teams," but the net is going with a "new approach" this season as it looks to promote its re-branded "Wednesday Night Hockey" matchups, according to Joe Reedy of the AP. NBC Sports Exec Producer Sam Flood said the net will be "showcasing the brightest team and stars," which is a "great way to add new teams and stars to a big night." Reedy noted the league has "tried to make Wednesday its night for must-see TV." NHL Exec VP & Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer said, "We're going to make Wednesday night feel special and we want our players to once we get into this to say, 'Wow, we're playing on Wednesday night.'" Reedy noted the "biggest beneficiaries of the change are the Western Conference teams," as NBCSN will "air 18 doubleheaders on Wednesday nights -- up from five last season -- and 67 of the scheduled 110 games on NBC and NBCSN will have a team from the conference." The Jets have "not made a regular-season national appearance" since '14, but "will make five this season." The Lightning and Predators will each "make 12 appearances, which is almost double what they had last season." The Golden Knights will make nine appearances on national TV, the Ducks eight and the Oilers seven, which is also "nearly twice as many appearances as last season." The traditional teams "will still get plenty of exposure" while the only teams "not scheduled to appear on NBCSN" are the Senators and the Canucks (AP, 10/2).
CROSSING BORDERS: THE ATHLETIC's Richard Deitsch notes NBCSN's Wednesday night games will "showcase more Canadian and Western Conference teams than they’ve shown in previous years." No early-season broadcast "will reflect this change more" than the Oct. 24 Maple Leafs-Jets broadcast. While Toronto and Winnipeg are not U.S. cities, they "matter to the game of hockey." Those markets "do not count in NBC’s universe as far as Nielsen-rated cities so the network loses the audience of home markets when they scheduled Canadian teams." But the "strategy is smart" if the net wants to "grow the NHL long-term, especially given the star quality" on the Maple Leafs and Jets. This season "will be a very good year" for hockey fans with cable TV (THEATHLETIC.com, 10/3).