Category Archives: NHL Network

A Few Thoughts

Here’s a few thoughts to get 2012 started.

  • Overall, the folks at NBC did a decent job with the Winter Classic. Sure, there was Mike Milbury’s verbal gaffe but things went pretty well. They did a nice job showing the warm ups although the audio kept dropping out on some of the mics. Fortunately, those problems were fixed as the telecast went on. There were some great visuals and sometimes the audio was too good as there were plenty of expletives overheard. The new NBC graphics are solid. They certainly reminded me of ESPN.
  • Some of the minuses include the so-called “NHL Pregame” that took over the 1 PM slot. Let’s call it what it was – a repeat of NBC Sports: A Storied Journey. That’s a fine documentary but there’s little hockey involved. We were also treated to a promo video hyping the London Olympics, something that doesn’t go with hockey what so ever. This led to a short discussion about the Vancouver games. It seemed awkward, even if it was filler.
  • Another minus were some of NBC’s talent. Jeremy Roenick was there, at least for a little bit. I realize he was in town for alumni purposes, among other things, but he was barely utilized on the telecast before heading back to Stamford for the game on NBCSN. And I know they want this to be a big “event” but Bob Costas and Jim Cantore add little to the broadcast. Costas is a fine host but so is Liam McHugh. McHugh works the NHL all year-long, he deserves the TV time. It seems kinda rotten to demote your regular host just because this is labeled a special event. Costas wasn’t even around for the early filler programming, as Mike Emrick helmed the studio. As far as Cantore goes, there isn’t much that he says that anyone couldn’t figure out by looking at the flags or a radar.
  • Moving on to the new NBC Sports Network, Cold War on Ice was terrific. CBC had a two-part movie on the Summit Series a few years ago, but they or TSN would be wise to pick this up. Unlike NHL 36 which was a letdown, Cold War was riveting from start to finish. With all the delays and scheduling shuffles, viewers might’ve missed this, but its appointment viewing for any hockey fan. This was a very good way to kick off the new NBCSN even if it was for a very niche audience. And, if you haven’t read it yet, check out Puck Daddy’s eulogy on Versus. It’s a funny summary and shows just how far the network has come from its OLN days.
  • Backtracking a little bit, the Versus coverage of the Winter Classic Alumni Game was a little shaky. The unique collaboration was an improvement over last year’s coverage which was tape delayed and completely chopped up. Jim Jackson and Kevin Weekes were their usual selves although there were a few times that Jim seemed lost and Weekes seemed to lean on cliches a little too much. Al Trautwig brought his dramatic flair to the proceedings. The real negative was Steve Coates. While at times he was humorous, he was also a mess. Many times he failed to identify who he was interviewing and just starting joking and chatting with them. That would be fine if we knew who he was talking to. This happened repeatedly, and as a relatively younger viewer, I didn’t always know who these people were. Thank goodness that graphics were usually shown at some point. Coates was just too silly and didn’t cut it.
  • While NBCSN got off to an ominous start with the delayed game, things didn’t go much better for NHL Network. A key to NHLN’s new look was their coverage of the World Junior Hockey Championships. It was promoted heavily in promos, including some featuring former Team USA players cheering this year’s team on. With USA bombing, the hype is largely over for this tourney and NHLN will lose some eyeballs. At least their Winter Classic coverage was pretty good.
  • And while the WJC were disappointing in the States, TSN is hauling in huge crowds. The first three Hockey Canada games averaged 2.3 million viewers. The tournament continues to get larger each year. With the TV rights expiring in 2014, you have to believe that Hockey Canada will be bringing in some serious dollars, just from broadcasting alone. That doesn’t count any other revenues like rink advertising as Hockey Canada is a partner with the IIHF sharing virtually all of the tourney’s revenue streams.

Posted by on January 3, 2012 in NBC, NHL, NHL Network, Ratings, Television, TSN, Versus


Thoughts On NHL Tonight and Other Stuff…

It has been awhile since I did an opinion piece in bullet form, so the time has come for one.

  • The much ballyhooed NHL Tonight made its debut last night. It had its new soundtrack and modern looking intro. Besides that though, nothing really changed from NHL On The Fly: Final. It was basically a flashier version of OTF. I was concerned about that, and indeed it seems like NHLN is just trying to update its image and use the vaunted program name to grab some eyeballs.
  • Now, not everything was bad about it. The show moved fast and it was updated throughout the night. Kevin Weekes and Billy Jaffe were solid as always and David Amber kept things lively. But let’s face it, fans were expecting something new, and this didn’t cut it. They did use the actual calls on some highlights and I’d still like them to do that during all game packages. But the graphics and style were stale which was a bit of a disappointment on its first night.
  • The good news is that as I mentioned before, there is new programming on the way. This will be slowly rolled out and should go full speed once NHLN gets its new studios in Stamford. Their Winter Classic coverage should be interesting although I’m not a fan of then cutting off TSN’s WJC intermissions to go to Philadelphia as they plan on doing. TSN is number one and NHLN should be showcasing them, not hyping the league’s special event.
  • Going back to the WJC, I thought NHLN did a decent job of covering the blowout by USA over Denmark. The new graphics looked pretty good and I’d like to see them in use during NHL games. Matt Rosen was solid although I’d prefer to see Gary Thorne or JP Dellacamera come back to the mic. I like Dave Starman, I think he’s very knowledgable and is one of the top college analysts. Rob Simpson was as good as one can be in a rather thankless reporter role. I’d still prefer TSN’s coverage but I understand the want of USA Hockey to have their own cheerleaders.
  • Moving on to CBC, Canadian Sports Media Blog has the news that Nabil Karim has moved on to join TSN. This comes at a bad time for the CBC as Mike Milbury is only expected to make sporadic appearances from here on out as NBC starts ramping up their NHL coverage. CBC has been decimated with departures over the past year and this makes it worse. Karim wasn’t an essential part of the HNIC team but he was important when it comes to their digital strategy.
  • Milbury’s move leaves a much larger hole, no matter how you feel about him. They could move Glenn Healy to the studio and try someone else between the benches. Both Greg Millen and Cassie Campbell have done it before. Or they can go down to two analysts as the main desk as they did before. Less chatter might be a good thing. And of course, they could go the TSN route and find themselves an ex-coach to join the network. Either way, CBC is lacking in the personnel department compared to where they stood many years ago.

Posted by on December 27, 2011 in CBC, NHL, NHL Network, Television, TSN


USA Hockey Extending Deal With NHLN

Any hope of the new NBC Sports Network picking up the World Junior Championships appears to be out the window. USA Today’s Kevin Allen reports that NHLN and USA Hockey are extending their deal

USA Hockey expected announce today it has reached agreement for NHL Network to continue broacasting its WJC games through 2018.

With that, hopefully we’ll get some news on the broadcasters for this year’s coverage.

UPDATE Here’s the official statement from USA Hockey with the broadcast schedule. Matt Rosen, Dave Starman and Rob Simpson will make up this year’s broadcast team.

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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in NHL Network, Television


NHL Network To Get Another New Look

NHL Network has had plenty of logos and on air looks during its short history. It is poised for its biggest change in just a few days. Just in time for the Winter Classic and NHLN-US’ coverage of the World Junior Championships, NHLN will be getting a whole new look. New idents, logos, and programs are on the way. You’ve probably seen that new logo on some promos on NHL Network. It made its first appearance online on All-Star ballots. Since then, it’s been showing up on promos promoting the WJC’s and NHL games. The full change and idents haven’t been rolled out yet, but they should make it to air shortly. In the meantime, here’s a preview, from Studio1Group’s website.

Studio 1 has been the primary developer of several NHL promotional animation and logo spots this season. They also designed the new studios at the NHL Store powered by Reebok in New York.

The new NHLN logo is pretty snazzy and is a definite improvement over the prior ones. The whole ident is very modern and it looks great. It is a real upgrade, and puts NHLN near the level of the other sports league’s network.

The new logo is great but more importantly, some new programming is also on the way. Several new Top 10 countdown styled shows are in the pipeline. Many of those have already had some sneak previews on the channel. The biggest change though is the addition of a new nightly show, NHL Tonight.

NHL Tonight will be replacing NHL On the Fly: Final Edition as of December 26. It will air at 10 PM EST and run through the night like OTF currently does. This greatly shortens OTF’s airtime as it will be down to three hours. NHL Tonight is described as this in TV guide listings –

NHL Tonight takes you around the NHL for all the latest news, scores, highlights and information at the end of every game night. Listen as players and coaches sound off in post game press conferences and the NHL Network team of analysts breakdown every game.

That doesn’t sound like much of a change from OTF but the look is drastically different. The logo above comes from a screenshot for the opening of the show. The full opening can be found on Studio1’s website. As you can see from the opening, it appears to be a big improvement from what OTF offers, at least aesthetically. It is still unknown if OTF will see some major changes when it comes to its format. Cutting its airtime could be a sign of wholesale changes. Regardless, for the first time in a long time, I’m pretty excited about the future of NHL Network. Things are finally looking up.


Posted by on December 19, 2011 in NHL, NHL Network, Television


NHL Hypes Regional Ratings

This is a huge press release from the NHL, detailing various business and broadcasting numbers. I will post the full release after the jump. But first, I’m going to highlight some of the regional ratings that are included since much of the other information mentioned is dated and already known –

First Quarter Filled With TV Ratings Highlights

Eleven local Regional Sports Networks experienced double- and triple-digit growth, including:

• Nashville (+200 percent)
• Carolina (+125 percent)
• Florida (+100 percent)
• Tampa Bay (+71 percent)
• Philadelphia (+60 percent)
• Boston (+57 percent)
• Minnesota (+53 percent)
• San Jose (+44 percent)
• Buffalo (+26 percent)
• Edmonton (+21 percent)
• New York Rangers (+14 percent)

There’s some huge bumps in there, but keep in mind that for many of the Southern teams, ratings couldn’t go much lower. In the case of the Predators, their local ratings are rarely published, so we don’t know where they previously ranked on the totem pole. Clearly, Florida is seeing a boost from their strong start but they have a long ways to go when it comes to being respectable ratings wise. It will be interesting to see if Carolina can continue that momentum since they have been struggling on the ice. A quick update. The Carolina and Nashville ratings include the Atlanta market for the first time. This helps explain their jumps a little bit. Either way, its good to see more people tuning in. Thanks to Dirk Hoag at On the Forecheck for the info.

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NHLN US To Air CHL Hockey & Root Sports WHL Schedule

The US version of NHL Network has aired some college and junior hockey in the past, but its been missing for first part of the season. That’s about to change. NHL Network will be airing tape delayed coverage of Sportsnet’s CHL Friday Night Hockey. The schedule begins on Saturday. I’m not sure if this will become a regular thing, but let’s hope so.


12/3 1 PM Windsor @ Ottawa

12/10 11 AM Portland @ Vancouver

12/17 11 AM Guelph @ London

For those with access to Root Sports Northwest, they also air selected WHL games throughout the year.


1/12 7 PM Seattle @ Tri-City

1/13 7:30 PM Tri-City @ Vancouver

1/20 7 PM Spokane @ Tri-City

1/27 6:30 Tri-City @ Red Deer

2/3 7 PM Everett @ Portland

2/10 7:30 PM Everett @ Vancouver

2/17 7:30 PM Tri-City @ Seattle

2/24 7 PM Spokane @ Portland

3/2 7:30 PM Seattle @ Everett

3/16 7 PM Seattle @ Spokane

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Posted by on December 2, 2011 in CHL, NHL Network, Root Sports, Television


A Few Thoughts

I have a few thoughts of my mind on this Wednesday afternoon, so lets get to them.

  • The debate over Dave Feschuk contacting James Reimer’s mother is a good one. I can see both sides. Feschuk is just a journalist trying to get to the bottom of a story. The Leafs haven’t always been forthcoming about this situation so Feschuk needed to find a better source. It’s debatable whether he made the right choice but I can see why he did it. The fans want more info and Feschuk was trying to deliver.
  • What I don’t like about this debate is having people like Don Cherry chiming in on the subject. Cherry isn’t the best person to be talking about accountability. He’s constantly stereotyping and doesn’t hold back. Just on Saturday night, he felt the need to mention that a player “had no visor”, as if we couldn’t see that. It was hardly necessary but if Cherry feels the need to call out journalists, then perhaps he needs to hold himself a little more accountable with his silly comments.
  • How awesome is Kenny Albert? Albert is one of the busiest people in sports and he called Monday night’s NHL on Versus telecast. He’s great at whatever sport he’s calling and is always prepared. I’d love to see Albert call more games for Versus but he’s already insanely busy.
  • Versus had a very big Saturday. The Boise State/Texas Christian college football thriller drew over 1.2 million viewers. That’s the third largest viewership to ever watch a college game on Versus. It peaked at over 2.2 million viewers and the network was in the top 10 in key demos for the night. It just shows the strength of college football and why Versus really needs a big get in that department. It’s too bad they lost out on the Pac 12 since it leaves Versus with very few ways to grow.
  • Versus really lacks in the college basketball department. While the net airs football nearly every week, their basketball coverage is much more sporadic. The good news is that Versus is teaming up with HDNet to air the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament on Thanksgiving weekend. It’s not much, but it’s a start since there are some decent teams involved. Versus is also adding to its action sports programming as much of the Dew Tour will be moving to the channel from Speed and Fuel TV.
  • Versus has also capitalized on Bob Costas’ interview with Jerry Sandusky as they re-aired the interview in its entirety and Costas made an appearance on NBC SportsTalk. A very smart move and I look forward to seeing more of Costas on the network with his new monthly shows this spring.
  • It was good to see Neil Smith back on NHL On the Fly last week. Smith can be sorta odd in how he communicates, but he’s a pretty good analyst. I’d like to see him on more often but he’s pretty busy as the GM of the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors.