The NHL TV Set, Part 2: Two Network Split, Because the Baseball Network Worked So Well

Editor’s Note: This is part two of our four-part series, The NHL TV Set, in which we speculate on alternate scenarios for the National Hocke League on broadcast television, where we believe the league can thrive.








NBC is probably in between FOX and ABC on the list of “Best NHL Network partners”, because they show more games than ABC, and show more playoff games than FOX did, but they don’t promote the spot with any of the ferocity that FOX did, so they finish a close second.

My only other real beef with the Peacock network is that the games aren’t shown with the consistency necessary to keep the NHL visible in the eyes of the public.  So this is my suggestion today: Use a two-network system, between CBS and NBC, to keep the NHL on every week from January until the Stanley Cup Finals, giving the league and their partners a chance to tell a story throughout the games each week.

CBS, having little going on on weekends after football season, would mix in hockey games on Saturdays and Sundays with it’s college basketball coverage.  Show off how the rivalries in hockey are comparable to many college battles throughout the nation, and maybe a few extra folks will flock to it.  NBC keeps it’s Sunday “Game of the Week” package with six games beginning in March.

Pre-Game Show: NHL Network/ will produce a half-hour pre-game show prior to each NBC or CBS telecast, and it’d be more or less your standard regional network’s pre-game show.

Game Coverage: See Above for most of the big details, but CBS would air a game after their 12PM College Basketball game at 2:30 or 3PM from mid-January until the end of February, and NBC would get it’s Sunday, 12:30 PM package.

Personalities: NBC obviously keeps it’s current hockey department on the job, but CBS would need some people.  How about the hottest and most exciteable voice in sports TV today, Gus Johnson?  That’ll give hoops fans who enjoy his brand of crazy a chance to hear him call a sport that lends itself to crazy.  Bill Clement is an analyst who can carry a telecast for someone who might be a bit of a hockey neophyte like Johnson, and former ESPN reporter Sam Ryan is at ice level.  James Brown returns to hockey to host a studio show with analysts Jim Dowd and Mike Eruzione.

Playoffs and Finals: CBS will get Saturday playoff games, and NBC will televise games on Sundays.  The weekends in which major golf tourneys, like The Masters on CBS or the TPC on NBC, force them to cover golf all day, on network will take both dates.  The networks will alternate coverage of the Winter Classic and the Stanley Cup Finals.

I doubt the logistics could really work here, but I’ve always argued that the NHL needed a more consistent presence on TV.  I think this would do it, despite changing networks mid-stream.  They’re both big enough names that it wouldn’t matter.


3 Responses to The NHL TV Set, Part 2: Two Network Split, Because the Baseball Network Worked So Well

  1. The problem here is “starting in january” where the season starts in October.

    Also, NFL playoffs are going to bump the NHL off-air in january. Part of the deal should be cross-referencing each other’s games.

    Bill Clement’s calling in NHL09 is awful, I haven’t heard him live.

  2. Jeff says:

    Are you for real, seriously. Have you not seen the CBS Sports programming website. They have something called the NFL which occupies them until late Januray. Then in late January and all of February they have something called PGA Golf and perhaps you’ve heard of “The Road to the Final Four” which they pay several hundred million dollars for. March is completely out because of March Madness. And then the second weekend of April they have The Masters. Now we’re in mid-April where we have NHL Playoff games and CBS has a committment to the PGA Tour for all but 2 or 3 weekends from the week after the Masters until July 4.

    Seriously, do you have any ideas that actually “make sense.”

    I left out one problem with your CW plan. The NHL is trying to sell their own network and they’re doing a good job with the CBC simulcast. Your CW plan destroys that – not to mention diminishes the need of the Center Ice package.

    Hockey it what it is. ACCEPT IT. Focus on fixing the current VS situation – because the current VS situation sucks and that network is as good as you are going to get.

    So NEXT.

  3. Morgan Wick says:

    Name all the professional sports leagues you can think of that are on more than one broadcast network.

    The NFL and NASCAR. That’s it. I can’t help but think baseball and the NBA should be on multiple networks before the NHL.

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