NBC Gets It (Mostly) Right on Night One

There were a couple of complaints about last night’s opening of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on the networks of NBCUniversal. They were largely due to blackouts in places where there shouldn’t have been such cases, like in Atlanta – or as some of you commented, in New Jersey. Things were corrected in Atlanta by the time CNBC finished their broadcast of Red Wings-Predators, Game 1. I got no such update on the other situations, but it appears they were only in small spots.

Other than that, however, it’d be hard to find anything wrong with how NBC did things Wednesday, and it appears they’d thought of everything. I had some worries about what would happen to the Los Angeles-Vancouver game on NBC Sports Network due to the Penguins-Flyers game heading into OT. However, the NHL tweeted out almost simultaneously as Jakub Voracek scored the overtime winner, that if necessary, the Canucks-Kings series opener would be beginning on NHL Network. It’s good to know that – even if the NHL Network’s reach isn’t the same as NBCSN or especially CNBC – that they have thought of everything in these situations and are prepared to utilize what they need to get games on the air.

For the first time since 2004, hockey fans in the United States had the option of watching two Stanley Cup Playoff games at the same time without resorting to a pay-per-view or internet streaming package. NBC Sports Network aired Philadelphia/Pittsburgh, while Detroit/Nashville aired on CNBC. There was no drop-off from network to network in terms of production quality. NBC had their top two teams (Mike Emrick and Pierre McGuire; Dave Strader and Brian Engblom) working these tilts, and it turned into a great start to the playoffs, complete with a newsmaking Mike Babcock interview from Engblom and an overtime game right off the bat.

But it was how NBC went further – including setting up overload programming nicely – that mattered most. A one-hour pre-game show to set up all eight Conference Quarterfinals. A separate studio and post-game show for CNBC, with Bill Patrick and Jeremy Roenick focusing solely on the game on that network. Finally, the network used three broadcast crews last night, with John Forslund and Brian Hayward in Vancouver for the Kings/Canucks game (the lone technical error of the night came from that game, where Zack Kassian was billed as Cody Hodgson in one graphic). In years past, a game like this would have almost certainly been simulcast from CBC. Or, as a consequence of sending a crew, would force the late game the next night into simulcast mode.

Now, I don’t know if NBCSN will keep up this production pace tomorrow (I don’t have the talent list for tonight yet). I do know that Daryl Reaugh will be forming a fourth team for, in all likelihood, the Boston-Washington game. Also, TSN has indicated they will be taking the CNBC feed for Sharks-Blues, which means NBC could end up with five or six original feeds. For all I know, they could use CSN’s feed Sharks-Blues and TSN’s for Blackhawks-Coyotes. But no matter what, the greater commitment is there, where it wasn’t in the past.

Take, for example, the commercials on CNBC. The network, it seems, forced it’s talent from their various programs during the day (Mad MoneyThe Kudlow Report, etc.) to go out and shoot hockey-themed promos. We will all undoubtedly be sick of these spots by the end of round two in a few weeks, but it’s cool to see that CNBC went to the effort to mesh hockey with the rest of their network. They had a countdown clock during Kudlow for when the Red Wings-Predators game would begin. NBC in no way half-assed things on Wednesday. Also, NBC had banners promoting Olympic coverage on the boards in Nashville and Pittsburgh.

That’s all hockey fans want, in my estimation. They want a feeling that the network responsible for bringing hockey to the masses is putting out an all-hands-on-deck effort for what is, essentially, their prize possession. That was extremely evident on Wednesday night. While there may have been some worries that the network might not be capable of pulling this off, it was all evidence to the contrary during the opening night of sports’ greatest tournament, which finally had coverage befitting such an event.

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12 Responses to NBC Gets It (Mostly) Right on Night One

  1. leafsfan1967 says:

    I agree with you Steve it was a good night for hockey fans and for NBC. I don’t think it would hurt for NBC to you either CBC or TSN for games involving Canadian teams but that’s a small point.

    My only problem with last night is that the wrong team won all three games!

  2. Jeff says:

    Steve – I think that going forward the LA vs Vancouver games will be the CBC simulcast. ALL NHL Network games will be local simulcast. So tonight I think we see Doc and Pierre in Boston. Rangers is simulcast. I think we see simulcast on the 10PM game especially since Eddie O is doing color commentary. I think we see Rick Peckham and Daryl Reaugh do the Blues vs Sharks.

    I think tomorrow in Pittsburgh we see Pierre with Rangers radio voice Kenny Albert. Devils vs Panthers is simulcast. Detroit vs Nashville is Strader and Engblom. And LA vs Vancouver is simulcast.

    Now Game 4 of the LA vs Vancouver series is NOT being broadcast locally in LA. They are allowing the NBC Sportsnet broadcast into LA. SO I wonder if for Game 4 only that NBC hires a crew.

    Only thing we know for sure on Saturday night is that John Forslund is doing PBP of Rangers vs Senators.

  3. leafsfan1967 says:

    >> “ALL NHL Network games will be local simulcast”

    So are you saying that you know 100% for sure that the Sens Rangers game will be the MSG feed of the Rangers broadcast?

  4. kevin says:

    I don’t even get NHL Network so how can they say all the games at televised? That’s like saying all the games are televised on Center Ice……

    • leafsfan1967 says:

      Kevin.

      What NBC are saying is that all games are on a national network. Whether or not you get that network is another matter. I understand your frustration about not seeing everything. I couldn’t see the Pens-Flyers last night because DirecTV and Comcr*p wont agree on contract terms to put CSN Philly on DirecTV.

    • Ryan says:

      And if all you have is bunny ears, you barely get any of it at all! Those liars!

      • leafsfan1967 says:

        Ryan that’s not fair. The NHL is on national television. It’s not their fault if you don’t have the capability to get the games.

      • Ryan says:

        Yeah, sorry, sarcasm doesn’t always translate well in text.

    • Kevin says:

      Of the 32 games (at the least) to 56 games (if all 8 series go 7 games) I think there are only 4-5 games on NHL Network. Most of them are from the NJ/FLA series that nobody cares about.

      I got all 3 games last night and it was great. If the NHL signed a deal with ESPN, we would be lucky if we got 1 playoff game every night, probably stuck on ESPN2. Last night was great for hockey, and it will continue throughout the playoffs.

  5. I was under the impression Forslund and Heyward were doing most or all of LA-VAN.

    Pierre has said he is doing ALL of WSH-BOS, as well as PIT-PHI. Its not impossible (except for game 6, they’re on the same day) due to the proximity of the cities. I wouldn’t be surprised if WSH-BOS is with Rick Peckam though instead of Doc.

    NBC still has a number of commentators they could call on. Whethe it be Peckham, Ahlers (I kind of have a feeling he’ll do a secondary western series) or the likes of Ken Daniels or Kenny Albert on the weekend. Peter McNabb is still available as well.

    One crew could easily do all of LA-VAN and the games in San Jose. Another could do games in St. Louis and Chicago. That would only leave games in Phoenix as simulcasts in the west.

    As for the east, FLA-NJ only needs commentators for a couple games (Daniels/Micheletti maybe),

    • cmasia says:

      Although I’d much prefer the option to watch CBC and TSN coverage, I agree last night was a great start for NBCU.

      On DirecTV, they even had the NBCS alt channel ( 604 and 604-1 ) up and running for the entire Kings – Canucks game, even though it was not needed. A very nice gesture to those who might be recording the game, worrying they could miss the beginning due to OT in the early game.

      The only complaint I have, and I tweeted both NBCS and Liam McHugh…. NBC’s main theme music going into every commercial break will drive me crazy over the next 2 months.
      That theme is way too “in your face” to hear every 10 minutes.

      But all in all, a very pleasing first night.

  6. bmitchelf says:

    No, Comcast was screwing up all over. NBCSN blackouts from NYC to DC on night one. For the CNBC blackout in Atlanta, is that part of the Predators market now? I know SportSouth goes down there for Braves games.

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