NHL on NBC


NHL on NBC
NHL on NBC
Nbcnhlpk0.jpg
NHL on NBC logo, featuring a depiction of the Stanley Cup
Format Sports
Created by NBC Sports
Starring Mike Emrick
Ed Olczyk
Liam McHugh
Pierre McGuire
Mike Milbury
Country of origin United States
Production
Running time 150 minutes or until game ends, with an option to dump out at 180 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Picture format 480i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
Original run January 14, 2006 (2006-01-14) – present
External links
Website

The NHL on NBC is the branding used for NBC's telecasts of National Hockey League games. While NBC has covered the league at various points in its history, the NHL returned to NBC from ABC beginning in 2006, with its current contract with the league running until the year 2021. As of 2011, its coverage includes weekly regular season games on Sunday afternoons, an outdoor game played on New Year's Day, and coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs shared with the league's cable partner Versus (which will become NBC Sports Network in 2012).

Contents

History

February 25, 1940 and 1966

As part of a series of experimental broadcasts that W2XBS (now WNBC, NBC's flagship station) produced between 1939 and 1940, the station broadcast a game between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens from Madison Square Garden on February 25, 1940. The broadcast was seen by approximately 300 people in the New York area.

Regularly scheduled American broadcasts of NHL games would not begin until the late 1950s, when CBS began carrying regular season games, but no playoffs. The deal was broken off in 1960 because owners were hoarding the TV revenue and not passing a share along to the players; continuing the deal would have required the teams to pass along some TV revenue to the players. Throughout the early 1960s, the NHL rejected future TV deals for this reason.

Televised NHL games resumed for the 1965–66 NHL season, but this time on NBC. In 1966, NBC became the first[1] United States television network to air a national broadcast of a Stanley Cup Playoff game. They provided coverage of four Sunday afternoon playoff games[2][3] during the 1965–66 postseason.[4] On April 10[5] and April 17,[6] NBC aired semifinal games between the Chicago Black Hawks and the Detroit Red Wings. On April 24[7] and May 1,[8] NBC aired Games 1 and 4[9] of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Montreal Canadiens and the Detroit Red Wings. Win Elliot served as the play-by-play man while Bill Mazer served as the color commentator for the games.[10]

NBC's coverage of the 1966 Stanley Cup Finals marked the first time that hockey games were televised on network television in color.[11] The CBC would follow suit the following year. NBC's Stanley Cup coverage preempted a sports anthology series called NBC Sports in Action hosted by Jim Simpson and Bill Cullen, who were between-periods co-hosts for the Stanley Cup broadcasts.

NHL broadcast rights returned to CBS the next season, in conjunction with RKO General.

1970s

From 1972–73[12]1974–75,[13] NBC not only televised the Stanley Cup Finals[14] (in actuality, a couple of games in prime time[15]), but also weekly regular season games on Sunday afternoons. NBC also aired one regular season and a couple of playoff games in prime time during the first couple of seasons. Tim Ryan and Ted Lindsay (with Brian McFarlane as the intermission host) served as the commentators for NBC's NHL coverage during this period.[16][17][18] Since most NHL teams still didn't have players' names on the backs of jerseys, NBC persuaded NHL commissioner Clarence Campbell to make teams put on players' names on NBC telecasts beginning with the 1973–74 to help viewers identify players.

NBC's NHL coverage during the 1970s was probably most notable for the introduction of the animated character Peter Puck.[19][20] Peter Puck, whose cartoon adventures (produced by Hanna-Barbera) appeared on both NBC's Hockey Game of the Week and CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, explained hockey rules to the home viewing audience.

Besides Peter Puck, the 1970s version of The NHL on NBC had a between periods feature titled Showdown. The concept of Showdown involved with 20 (16 shooters and four goaltenders) of the NHL's greatest players going head-to-head in a taped penalty shot competition. After the NHL left NBC in 1975,[21][22][23] Showdown continued to be seen on Hockey Night in Canada and local television broadcasts of U.S.-based NHL teams.

Prior to January 14, 2006, NBC's last regular season NHL game occurred on April 6, 1975. The game in question featured the Minnesota North Stars at the Chicago Blackhawks.[24]

Schedules

1972-73
Date Teams
December 29 (prime time game starting at 8:30 p.m. EST) Boston at Minnesota
January 7 Boston at Chicago
January 13[25] New York Rangers at St. Louis
January 21[26] Minnesota at Detroit
January 28[27] Detroit at Montreal
February 4[28] Pittsburgh at Minnesota
February 11 Montreal at New York Rangers
February 18[29] Montreal at Toronto
February 25 St. Louis at Detroit
March 4[30] Chicago at Boston
March 11 Toronto at New York Rangers
March 16 (prime time game starting at 8:30 p.m. EST) Boston at Detroit
March 18 Detroit at Chicago
March 25[31] St. Louis at Philadelphia

Note: The December 29 and March 16 games were on Friday nights; all other regular season games were on Sunday afternoons. All start times at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time unless noted.

1973-74
Date Teams
January 4 (prime time game starting at 8:30 p.m. EST) Boston at New York Rangers
January 19[32] New York Rangers at Chicago
January 27 Philadelphia at Boston
February 3 Montreal at Detroit
February 10 Los Angeles at Atlanta
February 17 Philadelphia at Montreal
February 24 Boston at Buffalo
March 3 Chicago at Detroit
March 10 Philadelphia at Boston
March 17 New York Rangers at Boston
March 24 St. Louis at Philadelphia
March 31[33] Toronto at New York Rangers
April 7[34] Pittsburgh at Atlanta
April 14[35] Montreal at New York Rangers
Note: The January 4 game was on a Friday night; all other regular season games were on Sunday afternoons. All start times at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time unless noted.
1974-75
Date Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Studio host
January 5[36] St. Louis at Buffalo[36] Tim Ryan[36] Ted Lindsay[36] Brian McFarlane[36]
January 11[37] Philadelphia at Montreal Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay Brian McFarlane
January 19 California at Chicago
January 26 Philadelphia at Boston
February 2[38] Detroit at New York Rangers
February 9[39] Montreal at Buffalo
February 16 Boston at Philadelphia Tim Ryan[40] Ted Lindsay[40] Brian McFarlane[40]
February 23 New York Rangers at Philadelphia Tim Ryan[41] Ted Lindsay[41] Brian McFarlane[41]
March 2 Chicago at Boston
March 9 Montreal at New York Rangers
March 16 Los Angeles at Philadelphia
March 23[42] St. Louis at Vancouver
March 30 New York Islanders at Atlanta
April 6[43] Minnesota at Chicago
Note: All start times (with the exception of the January 19 and February 9 telecasts) were at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

NBC did not broadcast the sixth game of the 1975 Finals, in which the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Buffalo Sabres to clinch their second consecutive championship, played in prime time on a Tuesday night. Had the Finals gone to a seventh game, NBC would have pre-empted its prime time lineup on a Thursday night to carry that deciding contest. But by that time, the network had informed the NHL that unless ratings for the Finals spiked, it would drop the sport, which it did at the end of the season.

2004-05 (Cancelled due to lockout)
2005-06
2006-07
Stanley Cup playoffs
Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern)
1/22/05 Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers
Chicago vs. St. Louis
San Jose vs. Colorado
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
1/29/05 Tampa Bay vs. Boston
Colorado vs. Detroit
Anaheim vs. Minnesota
1:30 p.m.
1:30 p.m
1:30 p.m.
2/5/05 Chicago vs. Boston
New Jersey vs. Philadelphia
Dallas vs. St. Louis
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
2/19/05 Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers
Detroit vs. Tampa Bay
Dallas vs. St. Louis
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
2/26/05 NY Islanders vs. New Jersey
Colorado vs. Philadelphia
San Jose vs. Detroit
1:30 p.m.
1:30 p.m.
1:30 p.m.
4/8/05 NY Rangers vs. Boston
Chicago vs. St. Louis
Anaheim vs. San Jose
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
5 p.m.
Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
1/14/06 NY Rangers vs. Detroit
Colorado vs. Philadelphia
Dallas vs. Boston
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato
1/21/06 Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh
Colorado vs. Detroit
San Jose vs. Los Angeles
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
6 p.m.
Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
1/28/06 Pittsburgh vs. NY Rangers
Detroit vs. Dallas
Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
2/4/06 Detroit vs. Colorado
Dallas vs. St. Louis
NY Islanders vs. Pittsburgh
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
4/8/06 NY Rangers vs. Boston
Colorado vs. St. Louis
Anaheim vs. Los Angeles
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
6 p.m.
Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
4/15/06 New York Rangers at Philadelphia
Minnesota vs. Dallas
Boston vs. Atlanta
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
Mike Emrick, John Davidson and Pierre McGuire
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Cammi Granato
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
1/13/07 Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia
Boston vs. NY Rangers
Los Angeles vs. St. Louis
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
2 p.m.
Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Darren Pang
1/28/07 Colorado vs. Detroit
Dallas vs. Anaheim
Philadelphia vs. Atlanta
3:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m.
Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
Chris Cuthbert, Peter McNab and Darren Pang
2/11/07 Colorado vs. Dallas
Tampa Bay vs. New Jersey
Chicago vs. Columbus
3:30 p.m
3:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m.
Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
Chris Cuthbert and Peter McNab
2/18/07 Washington vs. Pittsburgh
Chicago vs. NY Rangers
San Jose vs. Dallas
3:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m.
Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire
Dave Strader, Peter McNab and Joe Micheletti
Chris Cuthbert, Brian Hayward and Darren Pang
3/4/07 Colorado vs. Detroit
Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh
12:30 p.m.
12:30 p.m.
Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire
Dave Strader, Peter McNab and Joe Micheletti
3/11/07 Boston vs. Detroit
Carolina vs. NY Rangers
12:30 p.m.
12:30 p.m.
Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
3/25/07 Boston vs. Pittsburgh
NY Rangers vs. NY Islanders
12:30 p.m.
12:30 p.m.
Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire
Dave Strader, Brian Hayward and Joe Micheletti
4/1/07 Detroit vs. Columbus
Los Angeles vs. San Jose
12:30 p.m.
6:00 p.m.
Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Brett Hull and Pierre McGuire
Chris Cuthbert, Brian Hayward and Peter McNab
4/8/07 Buffalo vs. Philadelphia
Chicago vs. Dallas
1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.
Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire
Chris Cuthbert, Joe Micheletti and Peter McNab
Year Round Series Games covered Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
1973 Quarterfinals Montreal-Buffalo Game 4 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Semifinals New York Rangers-Chicago Game 2 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Montreal-Philadelphia Game 4 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
1974 Quarterfinals Atlanta-Philadelphia Game 1 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Montreal-New York Rangers Game 4 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Semifinals Boston-Chicago Game 2 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Philadelphia-New York Rangers Games 4, 7 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
1975 Quarterfinals Toronto-Philadelphia Game 1 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Pittsburgh-New York Islanders Game 4 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Semifinals Montreal-Buffalo Game 1 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay
Philadelphia-New York Islanders Games 3, 6 Tim Ryan Ted Lindsay

1990s

From 1990 through 1994,[44][45][46] NBC [47][48] only televised the All Star Game.[49][50] Marv Albert[51] and John Davidson[52] called the action, while Mike Emrick[53][54] served as an ice-level reporter in 1990.[55][56][57] Meanwhile, Bill Clement served as an ice-level reporter in 1991, 1992[58] and 1994. Hockey Night in Canada's Ron MacLean also served as an ice-level reporter, and was the lone correspondent for NBC at the 1993 All-Star Game.[59] Brenda Brenon worked on NBC's intermission features for the 1994 All-Star Game. The 1990 All-Star Game[60] marked the first time since Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals was broadcast on CBS[61][62] that the NHL appeared on American network television.

The Montreal Canadiens were slated to host the 1990 All-Star Game, but however withdrew their bid to considerations due to the superb hosting by Quebec City of Rendez-vous '87. This had allowed the Pittsburgh Penguins, who wanted to host an All-Star Game in 1993, to move up three years early. For its part, Pittsburgh's organizers added much more to previous games, creating the first "true" All-Star weekend.[63] Firstly was the addition of the Heroes of Hockey[64] game, a two-period oldtimers' game between past NHL greats. The second was the addition of the National Hockey League All-Star Skills Competition, a competition between the players invited to the All-Star Game. The Skills competition was created by Paul Palmer, who adapted the Showdown feature seen on Hockey Night in Canada from 1972–73 to 1979–80. All-Star players would be rewarded with $2,500 for any win in the skills competition.

To accommodate the altered activities, the game itself was played on a Sunday afternoon[65] instead of a Tuesday night, as was the case in previous years. This allowed NBC to air the game live across the United States - marking (surprisingly) the first time that a national audience would see Wayne Gretzky[66] and Mario Lemieux[67] play. Referees and other officials were also wired with microphones in this game, as were the two head coaches. Finally, NBC was also allowed to conduct interviews with players during stoppages in play, to the chagrin of the Hockey Night in Canada crew, whose attempts to do likewise were repeatedly denied by the league in past years.

In 1991,[68] NBC broke away[69][70] from the telecast in the third period to televise a briefing from the Pentagon involving the Gulf War. SportsChannel America[71][72] included the missing coverage in a replay of NBC's telecast. (NBC owned 50%[73][74][75][76] of Rainbow Enterprises, the parent of SportsChannel America.)[77]

There were reports[78] about NBC making an arrangement to air four to eight regular season games for the 1992–93 season[79] but nothing materialized. NHL officials had arranged a 4–8 game, time-buy package on NBC, but that fell through when the NHL wanted assurance that all NBC affiliates would carry the games. (Since 2006, NBC has generally gotten all but a couple of affiliates in the Top-50 markets to carry the games.) For instance, in 1990, NBC's affiliates in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, New Orleans, Indianapolis and Phoenix didn't clear the game (Atlanta and Phoenix would eventually receive NHL teams, but Atlanta's team moved to Winnipeg in 2011). Ultimately, roughly 15% of the nation didn't have access to the game. ABC was the league's network broadcaster instead, and then Fox won a bidding war with CBS for TV rights lasting from the 1994–95 through 1998–99 seasons.

2000s

Terms of the deal

In May 2004, NBC reached an agreement with the NHL to broadcast a slate of regular season games and the Stanley Cup Finals. The plan called for NBC to air at least six weeks of regular season games (three regional games each week) on Saturday afternoons. Also, NBC was to show one or two playoff games per weekend during the playoffs. Between two and five games of the Stanley Cup Finals would air in prime time (OLN/Versus received the other two as part of its package). NBC's primary game each week, as well as the Stanley Cup Finals, would air in high definition.

Unlike previous network television deals with the NHL (like Fox, who had the rights from 19941999 and ABC, who had the rights from 19992004), NBC paid no upfront rights fee, instead splitting advertising revenue with the league after meeting its own production and distribution costs. On the other hand, the league avoided the arrangement some minor sports leagues have, where they pay networks for broadcast time and produce their own telecasts, but keep any advertising revenue.

The last time NBC Sports entered a television deal which didn't require them to pay any rights fees was in 19941995, when they were involved in the Major League Baseball joint venture called "The Baseball Network." To a lesser extent, NBC also had a similar sort of revenue-sharing agreement with the Arena Football League and, because of their ownership in the XFL, also paid no rights fees for airing that league.

NBC's out-of-market games were available on NHL Center Ice through 2006–07; NBC switched to stand-alone games in 2007–08.

2004–05 NHL lockout

NBC's initial contract with the NHL ran for two years, with a network option to renew for two more. NBC's NHL coverage was delayed a year because of the 2004–05 NHL lockout, which wound up cancelling the entire regular season and playoffs[80]. NBC instead, decided to replace five of its scheduled NHL broadcasts with alternate sports programming (such as reruns of NASCAR Year in Review and The Purina Incredible Dog Challenge). NBC also decided to give one of the slots back to local affiliates, some of which filled the time given back to them with infomercials.

2005–06 NHL season

The NHL on NBC's new agreement debuted on January 14, 2006, with three regional games (New York vs. Detroit, Colorado vs. Philadelphia, and Dallas vs. Boston) to substantial praise among hockey fans and writers, who often compare national TV network's presentation to Hockey Night in Canada, which is broadcast in full on the NHL Center Ice package (although some writers even speculated that NBC's playoff broadcasts were superior to CBC's, largely because of announcers and HD coverage of games prior to the Finals).

2006–07 NHL season

For the 2006–07 season, NBC broadcast three regional games per weekend of coverage during the regular season. They also scheduled ten coverage windows during the playoffs (not including Stanley Cup Finals). The additional broadcasts were expected to replace the Arena Football League, which NBC dropped after the 2006 season. NBC also produced two games per week in high definition, up from one in 2005-06.

The newly titled NHL on NBC Game of the Week premiered for a second season January 13, 2007 with three regional games (LA vs. STL, BOS vs. NYR, PIT vs. PHI) at 2:00 p.m. ET. Games started at various times, ranging from 12:30 to 3:30 during the season (this variation primarily resulted from NBC's commitments to the PGA Tour and other programming).

The NHL on NBC moved to Sundays after its season premiere (listed above) for the final eight dates of the season. NBC's nine games amounted to the league's most extensive U.S. broadcast television coverage since 1998, during Fox's tenure.

2007 playoffs controversy

On May 19, 2007, during the Stanley Cup playoffs, NBC angered many fans and journalists when it pre-empted coverage of the overtime period of the tied Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres, instead going directly to pre-race coverage of the Preakness Stakes (a horse racing broadcast generally contains about two hours of pre-race coverage, with the actual races lasting two or three minutes). Coverage of the overtime period was shunted to Versus[81], the league's cable partner, although viewers in the Buffalo and Rochester markets were able to continue watching the game on WGRZ and WHEC, their local NBC affiliates.

The move was originally seen not only as a snub of small-market teams (such as the Sabres), but of hockey in general. However, NBC and the NHL later revealed that the Preakness deal had been made several years before and contained mandatory advertising commitments during the pre-race build-up. Both sides could have agreed that the entire game would air only on Versus or begin earlier in the day, but the NHL wanted at least one Eastern Conference Finals game to air on NBC, and said that it does not schedule with the assumption that games will go into overtime. Moreover, an earlier start time could not be arranged because the broadcast window was fixed in advance, and both the NHL and NBC needed the flexibility to pick the Western Conference Finals for that window if they so desired.

In 2006, NBC televised Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Sabres and the Carolina Hurricanes on the same day as the Preakness. Before the game, Bill Clement advised the audience that in the event that the game went into overtime, it would be televised on Versus, or OLN as it was known at the time. The Sabres won the game in regulation.

NHL on NBC Faceoff

For the 2006–07 season, NBC added an online, broadband-only pregame show to its NHL coverage. This is similar to what it does with its Notre Dame football coverage. Titled NHL on NBC Countdown to Faceoff, it airs for a half-hour before every NHL on NBC telecast on NBCSports.com. The show features a breakdown of upcoming action, as well as reports from the game sites and a feature on an NHL player.

On March 27, 2007, NBC Sports and the NHL agreed to a one-year contract extension with a network option for a second year.

Beginning in 2007–08, NBC has "Flex Scheduling", similar to NFL broadcasts. The league selects at least three potential games at the start of the season for most of NBC's regular-season coverage dates. Thirteen days prior to the game, NBC selects one to air as its Game of the Week. The other two games move outside of NBC's broadcast window and return to teams' regional carriers. Since the league made network coverage a priority in the 1990s, regionalized coverage had been the norm; NBC is the first network to try regularly presenting one game to the entire nation. Additionally, studio segments now originate from the game site instead of 30 Rockefeller Center. All games are produced in 1080i high definition.

On New Years Day, January 1, 2008, NBC began its 2007–08 schedule with an outdoor hockey game (the 2008 NHL Winter Classic) between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The game went head to head with some of the New Year's Day college football bowl games, but none of the feature Bowl Championship Series games. While never expected to beat or directly compete with football ratings the timing was designed to take advantage of the large audience flipping between channels to watch the different bowl games. It was the first such game to be televised live by an American network and the NHL's first outdoor regular season game since the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens played the Heritage Classic, which aired on CBC. CBC also showed the 2008 outdoor game. Although originally maligned as a mere publicity stunt by some in the media, the 2008 Winter Classic drew a 2.6 Nielsen rating in the U.S. (or about 2.9 million viewers), the highest rating for a regular-season contest since February 1996, when Fox was the league's network partner.[82] By comparison, CBS received a 2.7 rating for the Gator Bowl, which also had a 1 p.m. start.[83]

New Year's Day aside, all regular season telecasts now air on Sunday afternoons.

In April 2008, NBC announced the activation of its option to retain broadcasting rights for the 2008–2009 season. NBC's scheduling will be similar to the 2007–2008 season (flex scheduling for regular-season games, up to five games of the Stanley Cup Finals—changing in 2009 to include the first two and last three games, etc.) except that all (or nearly all) of the Sunday-afternoon games will begin at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time. Coverage again included an outdoor game, which was between the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field on January 1, 2009.

Teams featured

The NHL on NBC usually only features U.S.-based teams, except during the Stanley Cup playoffs, when broadcasting a game involving a Canadian team might be unavoidable. NBC has the first choice of games and times on its scheduled broadcast dates. CBC and TSN are required to adjust accordingly during the playoffs, even though both pay the league substantial rights fees and NBC, until its most recent contract extension, did not.

There has been one exception to this policy since 2006; in 2008, the Montreal Canadiens became the first (and, to date, the only) Canadian team featured on the NHL on NBC during the regular-season (NBC Sports' Dick Ebersol is rumored to have specifically wanted to do a game from Montreal at some point). They played the New York Rangers on February 3. A second exception will be made when the 2011 Stanley Cup runners-up Vancouver Canucks play on NBC in 2012.

Like its predecessors, NBC frequently chooses games with a focus on about six teams: New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, and most recently the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks. The relation has very little correlation with team success; for instance, the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, and the Buffalo Sabres made it to the conference finals in both 2006 and 2007. Those teams received one and two potential games respectively in the 2008 season, compared to the seven potential games given to the Rangers and the four games which could include the rival Philadelphia Flyers.[84] There also is significant emphasis on the Philadelphia Flyers; the Flyers are a subsidiary of Spectacor, a majority-owned subsidiary of NBC owner Comcast, making its favored status a conflict of interest (specifically self-dealing), especially since Comcast has become the exclusive national television broadcaster of the NHL in the United States. None of the other three major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada currently have any such conflict between their team owners and broadcasters, since they have at least two separate national broadcasters.

The most frequently cited reasons for this relative lack of diversity are low ratings in a market (such as for Anaheim, which competes with the older Los Angeles Kings in its market) and market size (such as for Buffalo, where hockey ratings are the highest in the league, but the market itself is the smallest of any American NHL team).

Innovations

Some of NBC's innovations include putting a star clock underneath the scoreboard at the top of the screen. During each game, NBC takes one player from each team and clocks how long that player is out on the ice each time he comes out for a shift. Also, goalies like Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury may wear cameras inside their masks, much like Major League Baseball on Fox asks catchers to do. Finally, NBC puts one of its analysts in between the two teams' benches for what they call Inside the Glass reporting. In addition to providing color commentary, this allows the analyst to observe and report on the benches, as well as interviewing the coaches periodically.

2010s

In 2010, NBC would retain the rights to the NHL. They continued to broadcast the Winter Classic, Sunday-afternoon games at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, six weekends of playoff action, and Games 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

On February 20, 2011, NBC introduced Hockey Day in America[85]—patterned after the CBC's Hockey Day in Canada, it featured eight of the most popular American teams in regional games: Capitals at Sabres, the Flyers at Rangers, and the Red Wings at Minnesota Wild, followed by the Penguins at Blackhawks for the national nightcap. The Flyers-Rangers game was aired in the majority of homes, while the Sabres-Capitals game was only seen in the Buffalo and Washington markets. The tripleheader would be completed with the 2011 Heritage Classic, for which viewers were redirected to Versus.

On April 19, 2011, after ESPN, Turner Sports and Fox Sports placed bids, NBC Sports and Versus announced they had reached a ten-year extension (through 2020-2021) to the television contract with the National Hockey League worth nearly 2 billion dollars over the life of the contract. As part of the announcement, the chairman of NBC Sports, Dick Ebersol announced that the Versus channel would be renamed "within 90 days," in order to reflect the synergy of the two networks after the Universal-Comcast merger.[86] Under this new contract, the NHL would get the following from NBC:[87]

  • A rights fee of roughly US$200,000,000 per year for the combined cable and broadcast rights, nearly triple that of the previous contract.[88]
  • An annual Thanksgiving Weekend game that will be aired on the day after Thanksgiving ("Black Friday"). The airing of NHL games in November is the earliest start for a broadcast of a regular-season NHL game since the 1950s, when the league still only had six teams.
  • A national "Game of the Week" continuing as in previous years.
  • Hockey Day in America becoming a permanent part of the schedule.
  • Continued coverage of the NHL Winter Classic, which will henceforth be played in prime time on New Year's Night. In the event that New Year's Day falls on a Sunday, the game will be moved to the following day, Monday. Although the contract calls for the Winter Classic to be played in prime time, the 2012 edition is currently scheduled to be played in the afternoon of January 2nd.
  • Digital rights across all platforms for any games broadcast by NBC or Versus.
  • Increased coverage of Stanley Cup Playoff games (all playoff games will be aired nationally on NBC, Versus, or if necessary, another NBC-owned network such as USA). Games on the NBC network will continue to be exclusive; midweek games after the first round will be exclusive to either NBC, Versus, or any other NBC-owned network carrying the game.
  • Continued sharing of the Stanley Cup Final with Versus (NBC will air Games 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7).

Although the Winter Classic is the only regular-season telecast confirmed by NBC at this point, it is expected that the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins will get featured at least twice during the 2011-12 regular season on NBC: Friday afternoon, November 25 at 1 p.m. EST when they host the Detroit Red Wings, and on Saturday, January 7, 2012 at 1 p.m. EST when they host the Vancouver Canucks in a rematch of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final; this will likely be the only time a Canadian-based NHL team will appear on NBC during the 2011-2012 regular-season.

The remaining regular-season games, as in the recent past, will be determined as the season goes on to insure that the best match-up being played that day is available to the network.

Personalities

Ratings

References

  1. ^ "Stanley Cup Hockey Playoffs on Today". Hartford Courant: p. 3G. April 10, 1966. 
  2. ^ Associated Press (February 27, 1966). "NBC May Televise Stanley Cup Play". Hartford Courant: p. 6C. 
  3. ^ "NHL Near Deal for TV of Cup Games". Chicago Tribune: p. C1. February 27, 1966. 
  4. ^ "NBC Makes Plans to TV Stanley Cup Playoffs". Los Angeles Times: p. B6. February 28, 1966. 
  5. ^ Page, Don (April 9, 1966). "Let's Ear It for Transistor Man". Los Angeles Times: p. D2. 
  6. ^ Associated Press (April 16, 1966). "More Than Feelings Hurting—As Black Hawks Limp Back Home". Hartford Courant: p. 20. 
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