NHL Network Amends Programming Schedule

According to our pal Garrett Hansford at NHL Network, due to the change in time, NHL Network will air their pre-game show beginning at 5:00 PM ET, and will air until the NBC window begins at 8PM ET. They’ll air post-game coverage after the game.

Also, the planned 9-11AM ET episode of NHL Live has been cancelled.

NBC Programming Announcement For Saturday

ADDITIONAL WINTER CLASSIC PROGRAMMING TO FILL 1-4 P.M. ET WINDOW

 

NEW YORK – December 31, 2010 – Due to expected steady rain throughout tomorrow afternoon, the NHL has announced that the start time of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will change from 1 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET on New Year’s Day. NBC Sports will still fill the original Winter Classic programming window of 1-4 p.m. ET with Winter Classic content such as live interviews and taped coverage of previous Winter Classics.

 

NBC SPORTS’ UPDATED NEW YEAR’S DAY PROGRAMMING

 

1-4 p.m. ET Winter Classic Programming

 

4-6 p.m. ET ADT Skills Challenge (golf)

 

8 p.m. ET 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

 

OFFICIAL NHL STATEMENT: The National Hockey League announced today the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will change the original 1 p.m. (ET) start time on New Year’s Day to 8 p.m. (ET). The decision was based on the latest meteorological reports, which have advised an approaching front of potentially steady rain expected to fall through the afternoon and taper off by early evening, and after consultation with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Washington Capitals, national broadcast partners (NBC, CBC, RDS), the Pittsburgh Steelers, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, and local officials.

 

We have been further advised that cooler and drier air conditions are expected in the evening with the passing of the front. The NHL feels that it was important to make this announcement at this time so as to minimize the inconvenience to all parties associated with the event, especially our fans.

 

All 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic tickets will continue to be honored and all ticket holder agreement language remains unchanged.

 

 

Why a Primetime Winter Classic is the Happiest Accident That Could Happen

Now that we’re going to be able to see all of this happen, in hindsight, someone at NBC or at the NHL will have to think to themselves … why haven’t we thought to do this sooner?

In the end, there might be some criticisms of moving the Winter Classic to primetime at 8:00 PM ET. None of them override the fact that this is ultimately the most beneficial accident that could ever happen to this league. If the adequate masses who tune into the game are informed enough, this could turn into a ratings bonanza relative to the NHL and NBC. It could draw the viewership that the Stanley Cup Final does on the network. Here’s a few reasons why:

1. Football Fans Will Be Fatigued and Have Fewer Games to Choose From

Here was the college football lineup scheduled to face-off against the Winter Classic tomorrow afternoon:

12:00 TicketCity Bowl: Texas Tech vs. Northwestern (ESPNU)
1:00 Outback Bowl: Penn State vs. Florida (ABC)
1:00 Capital One Bowl: Alabama vs. Michigan State (ESPN)
1:30 Gator Bowl: Michigan vs. Mississippi State (ESPN2)

The following is the new competition that the game will face at 8PM ET:

8:00 Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Connecticut

Not only is this game just one football showdown to distract from the popular hockey showcase, but the Big East teams have always been terrible draws in their BCS showdowns, and Connecticut being the worst team to make a BCS bowl doesn’t exactly help, either. If this is the non-contest everyone expects it to be, the NHL could make some real gains today.

Also, getting away from those early games takes Big Ten teams out of the picture, which would have caused ratings trouble in some big hockey markets, like Detroit (vs. Michigan State/Michigan), Chicago (a few for Northwestern) and host Pittsburgh (vs. Penn State). While Connecticut may take some of the northeast, I don’t think we’ll see too many potential viewers lost. Not only this, but the Rose Bowl leading into the Fiesta Bowl (TCU vs. Wisconsin) is a week one. Add that to the fact that the Winter Classic is the only game actually on a network, and this could be good.

Some have been complaining that going up against other hockey games will hurt the Winter Classic. Doubtful. The Classic is once a year, something hockey fans turn into out of curiosity sometimes more than actual desire to watch the game. In fact, I’ll go as far as to predict that NBC will draw more viewers in markets that hockey games are being played in (like New York) than the local teams that are playing that night (like the Rangers and Devils are against Tampa and Carolina). The game could draw 5-6 million viewers.

2. Everybody’s Awake By Now.

You hate to be cynical, but it is hard for some people to wake up on New Year’s Day due to the, er, spirits they consume. By 8PM ET, everybody will be sobered up, or at least ready to start drinking again. The bars will probably have a few visitors to flip between games, and there’ll probably be a big chance for a big audience, which is rare on a Saturday night. New Year’s Day is a huge television day, second only to Thanksgiving on the American calendar.

3. With the Lights On, A New Wrinkle

One of the reasons (perhaps) that the 2010 Winter Classic didn’t do as well as the 2009 one was that it was a bit of a retread. Another legendary baseball stadium. Now, with the NHL going back to football fields, and a new one at that, maybe this is the new feature the league was hoping for. If the weather complies, it’ll look almost like an action movie. Gladiators headed out, under the lights, onto the ice to do battle. If nothing else, 24/7 will have some ridiculous shots.

I hope you’ll all tune in to the Winter Classic Saturday night.

NBC To Air Winter Classic Programming in Afternoon Slot

According to NBC Sports’ Twitter feed:

NBC will still fill original 1-4 pm ET window with additional Classic programming, such as interviews & taped coverage of previous Classics

 

 

Happy New Year’s Eve Everyone, Here’s a Coyotes-Blues Announcer Post

Phoenix vs. St. Louis, 8:30 PM ET, VERSUS (HD)
Play by Play:
Dave Strader
Color: Billy Jaffe
Reporter: Todd Walsh

Official NHL Release on Primetime Winter Classic

PITTSBURGH (December 31, 2010) – The National Hockey League announced today the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will change the original 1 p.m. (ET) start time on New Year’s Day to 8 p.m. (ET). The decision was based on the latest meteorological reports, which have advised an approaching front of potentially steady rain expected to fall through the afternoon and taper off by early evening, and after consultation with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Washington Capitals, national broadcast partners (NBC, CBC, RDS), the Pittsburgh Steelers, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, and local officials.

 

We have been further advised that cooler and drier air conditions are expected in the evening with the passing of the front. The NHL feels that it was important to make this announcement at this time so as to minimize the inconvenience to all parties associated with the event, especially our fans.

 

All 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic tickets will continue to be honored and all ticket holder agreement language remains unchanged.

 

 

The following is a list of changes for FANS based on the new 8 p.m. (ET) start time:

 

Gates to Heinz Field will now open at 5:30 p.m. (ET)

 

Pre-game entertainment now begins at 7:30 p.m. (ET)

 

Heinz Field Parking Lots will now open at 2:30 p.m. (ET)

 

Spectator Plaza will now open at 3 p.m. (ET)

 

 

The following are the weather-related GAME procedure contingencies for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic:

 

Once the game has begun, it may be subject to one or more temporary stoppages due to unplayable weather conditions, at the discretion of the Commissioner.

 

Period and game format may be reconfigured to accommodate temporary stoppages as determined appropriate by the Commissioner.

 

The clubs will switch ends at the 10:00 minute mark of the third period as signaled by a “hard whistle.” The face off will take place where the play was whistled dead. This identical procedure will take place at the 2:30 minute mark of an overtime period, if needed.

 

In the event of a shootout, each club will determine what end they prefer to defend, which could be the same end.

 

If the game is started, then stopped permanently due to unplayable weather conditions, it will be deemed “official” once two periods have been played. The team leading at the time play is stopped will be declared the winner and will be awarded two points in the standings.

 

If the game is tied at the time play is stopped permanently, any time after two periods of play, each team will be awarded one point in the standings, with an opportunity to earn an additional point in a standard shootout format.

 

If weather conditions permit, the shootout will be conducted at Heinz Field immediately after regulation play has been stopped. If weather conditions make it impossible to conduct a shootout safely at Heinz Field, the shootout will take place at Verizon Center on Sunday, February 6 prior to the regularly scheduled Pittsburgh-Washington game.

 

If the game is started, and stopped permanently due to unplayable weather conditions, and fewer than two periods of regular time has been played, the game will be officially “postponed” and, if possible, will be played in its entirety at Heinz Field on Sunday, January 2, beginning at 12 p.m. (ET). If the game cannot be replayed at Heinz Field on January 2, it will be rescheduled at CONSOL Energy Center for a date to be determined later in the season.

 

Ticket holders must retain their tickets to gain re-entry to Heinz Field in the event the game is to be played Sunday, January 2. There will be no refunds for ticket holders unable to attend Sunday’s postponement date. If the event is canceled on Sunday, a refund of the ticket’s face value will be honored. The refund does not include service fees, and other fees such as delivery or processing fees. Ticket holders should review the back of their ticket for complete refund policy language.

 

 

How Does a Primetime Winter Classic Sound? Official, That’s How

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly just announced that the Winter Classic has been moved to 8PM ET. All television arrangements in the US remain the same, CBC will make announcement shortly. I’m doing some research, but this may be a first for a regular season game on network television.

We’ll have one more editorial on this before the day is done, plus Coyotes-Blues announcers.

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