How about that? After being in the dark ages for years, the NHL finally came to its senses and will have all of its postseason games aired nationally in the United States. They do this in Canada through CBC and TSN. But for some reason, the NHL never maximized its television in the US to do the same. Whomever was the national cable partner, USA, ESPN, SportsChannel or Versus were always stuck with airing one or two games a night and never showcasing more then one or two series in the first two rounds.
While other leagues found a way to have all of their postseason games aired nationally, the NHL continued this archaic policy. NHL fans had to resort to the Center Ice package or illegal means to watch the games, but in the new US TV contract, all that has changed.
Now, the Conference Quarterfinals will have all games aired nationally through NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC and NHL Network. These games will be subject to local blackout as the regional sports networks will have precedence. On weeknights, NBC Sports Network will carry doubleheaders with CNBC and NHL Network providing complimentary coverage.
In the Conference Semifinal round, there will be exclusive national coverage which means no more RSN’s or Jack Edwards on NESN. NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and NHL Network will be the home of all the games and no local blackouts.
Then in the Conference Finals, NBC will provide weekend coverage, NBCSN will have exclusive weeknight games.
And the Stanley Cup Finals, NBC will carry Games 1 & 2 and then 5-7 if necessary. NBC Sports Network airs Games 3 & 4.
The press release from NBC Sports Group.
Every Stanley Cup Playoff game to be televised nationally for first time<
NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC and NHL Network to carry games
NBC & NBC Sports Network to provide Stanley Cup Final coverage for 7th straight year
NBC Sports Group exclusivity begins with Conference Semifinals
NEW YORK – April 4, 2012 – For the first time in the 95-year history of the NHL, every Stanley Cup Playoff game will be televised nationally. The NBC Sports Group will provide unprecedented access to the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs in April, May and June, televising as many as 105 playoff games and possibly more than 262.5 hours of programming. Games will be presented on NBC, the NBC Sports Network, the NHL Network, and NBCUniversal’s business channel CNBC in primetime.
In addition, five Comcast SportsNets will surround their local teams with live event and/or news coverage, and NBCSports.com will provide comprehensive online coverage of the playoffs with online-only video, contributions from Comcast SportsNet insiders, and constant news updates from ProHockeyTalk.
“The NBC Sports Group is proud to employ all of its assets – broadcast, cable, regional and digital – to surround the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and provide fans and viewers with more live-event and news coverage than any previous post-season in NHL history,” said Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group.
The playoffs begin one week from today on Wednesday, April 11. A Conference Quarterfinal television schedule will be released Sunday or Monday following the conclusion of the 2011-12 regular season.
Below is a round-by-round preview of this year’s playoff coverage.
For the first time in league history, every first-round playoff game will be televised on a national platform. In order to televise as many as four games on a given day/night, the NBC Sports Group will utilize NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC and the NHL Network to carry Conference Quarterfinal games.
The NBC Sports Network will be the primary home of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, offering coverage of one or two games virtually every night of the first round. CNBC and the NHL Network will also provide live event coverage in primetime. NBC will present exclusive afternoon coverage during the weekends of April 14-15 and April 21-22. Games airing on NBC Sports Network, CNBC and the NHL Network will be subject to local blackouts in the first round.
The NBC Sports Group’s Stanley Cup Playoff exclusivity begins with the Conference Semifinal round for the first time. Beginning in the second round and continuing through the Stanley Cup Final, all games will air exclusively on either NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC or the NHL Network.
The NBC Sports Network will serve as the primary home for Conference Semifinal coverage, offering one or two games virtually every night of the second round. CNBC and the NHL Network will again provide live event coverage in primetime, although more infrequently than in the first round. NBC will present exclusive afternoon coverage during the weekends of April 28-29 and May 5-6.
NBC and the NBC Sports Network will team to provide exclusive coverage of the Conference Finals. NBC will broadcast a game each day on the weekend of May 19-20. The remaining games from both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals will be televised exclusively on the NBC Sports Network.
STANLEY CUP FINAL
For the seventh consecutive year, NBC and the NBC Sports Network (formerly VERSUS) will provide exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup Final. NBC will broadcast Games 1-2 and Games 5-7 (if necessary), with NBC Sports Network televising Games 3-4.
- Last year’s Stanley Cup Final seven-game series, which featured the Boston Bruins defeating the Vancouver Canucks to claim their first championship since 1972, (Games 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 on NBC and Games 3, 4 on VERSUS) averaged 4.6 million viewers and a household rating of 2.7/5, surpassing the 2004 series (3.3 million, 2.2/4 on ABC/ESPN) as the most-watched combined network/cable Stanley Cup involving a Canadian team ever and up 39 percent from that series
- Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, which saw the Boston Bruins defeat the Vancouver Canucks, 4-0, was watched by 8.54 million people on NBC, making it the most-watched NHL game in 38 years, according to The Nielsen Company
PRE-GAME & POST-GAME COVERAGE
NHL Live, NBC Sports Network’s NHL pre-game show, will air every game night at 6:30 p.m. ET. NHL Post-Game will air a 30-minute program following the conclusion of game coverage every night of the playoffs.
COMPREHENSIVE LOCAL COVERAGE
Comcast SportsNet, the local home for the Blackhawks, Capitals, Flyers and Sharks, will air comprehensive coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (for its teams that advance to the post-season), including exclusive regional coverage of all first-round games with pre- and post-game shows.
For teams that advance past the first round, the regional networks will closely follow hometown playoff progress with pre- and post-game coverage as well as breaking news and analysis throughout each team’s playoff run.
Comcast SportsNet New England will air special pre- and post-game coverage for all Bruins games throughout the playoffs, as well as in-depth coverage and analysis of the team’s playoff run throughout all CSNNE programming and online at CSNNE.com.
NBCSports.com’s fast-growing ProHockeyTalk, which has experienced a 140% increase in unique visitors and a 289% in page views compared to last season, will anchor NBC Sports’ online and mobile coverage of the NHL Playoffs.
Featuring writers Jason Brough & Mike Halford, ProHockeyTalk provides unique, informative and entertaining news, commentary and analysis– updated around the clock — on all the stories surrrounding the NHL Playoffs. ProHockeyTalk is also an integral part of the popular NBC Sports Talk app. Other NBCSports.com features will include:
- The debut of PHT Extra, a multiple-times-a-week. online-only. video segment, featuring ProHockeyTalk’s Brough and Halford
- Online-only videos featuring NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network hockey commentators previewing upcoming playoff games and wrapping-up all of the NHL action that day
- Content provided by Comcast SportsNet NHL insiders
- An NHL Playoffs Channel Finder tool that will help fans locate the times and stations for every NHL playoff broadcast
- “Second screen” companion programming on NBCSports.com for games airing on NBC will include live, in-game video highlights; a live chat with ProHockeyTalk’s Brough & Halford; “Star Cams” featuring alternating, video coverage of the best players on each team, and a newly-introduced “Spotlight Cam,” a just-above-ice-level/center ice look at the action
In addition to broadcast, cable, regional and digital platforms, the NBC Sports Group will connect with NHL fans via numerous social media initiatives, including social integration, on-air integration and news:
- Social Integration:
- #StanleyCup Hash Tag: NHL Fans can join the conversation by using the #StanleyCup hash tag across every game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs
- Milestone Mania: With the launch of the new Facebook Timeline, fans can explore and answer Stanley Cup Playoffs trivia questions
- NHL on NBC Sports Instagram: NHL fans can upload photos to Instagram and use #instahockey. The NHL on NBC Sports Instagram account “Because It’s the Cup” will feature the best fan photos
- Live Twitter Chats: Fans will have the opportunity to have live Twitter chats with NHL and NBC Sports personalities and commentators throughout the playoffs
- PHT Top 10 Countdown – The writers at ProHockeyTalk are providing their Top 10 moments from last year’s playoffs for NHL on NBC Sports’ social platforms.
- On-Air Integration:
- Playoff Polls: Fans can weigh in on a variety of NHL themed polls on Facebook and Twitter that commentators will discuss throughout the broadcasts
- #MVPonNBC – During pre-game, post-game and in-game coverage, fans can tweet who they think the #MVPonNBC is. Commentators will discuss the fan favorites and weigh in with their own opinions.
- Fans can engange with Twitter (@NHLonNBCSports) and Facebook (facebook.com/NHLonNBCSports) to receive the most up to date tune-in information, scores, reports and stories from around the NHL and ProHockeyTalk.
That’s it. The NFL preseason TV schedules are next. That’s a promise.