Your Announcers and Open Thread For Devils-Stars

New Jersey vs. Dallas, 8:30 PM ET, VERSUS (HD)
Play by Play:
Rick Peckham
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Inside the Glass: Brian Engblom

NHL, Molson/Miller Deal Worth More Than $400 Million

From Richard Sandomir of the New York Times:

Another area where the league has bettered itself — corporate sponsorships — is receiving a significant boost in a new beer deal with MillerCoors in the United States and Molson Coors in Canada worth nearly $400 million over seven years. It is the biggest corporate sponsorship in N.H.L. history.


It is more than twice as much as what the incumbent sponsors, Anheuser-Busch in the United States and Labatt in Canada, which are owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, will have paid through this season. The deal will be announced Tuesday.


“Hockey and beer go together,” said Andy England, the executive vice president and chief marketing officer for MillerCoors. “Hockey fans are big beer drinkers. In fact, we have data that shows hockey fans are the biggest beer drinkers of any major sports league.”



Could YouTube Show Live NHL Games?

From Jun Yang of Businessweek:

Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) — Google Inc.’s YouTube said it’s in talks with the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League to broadcast live games, building on the popularity of cricket’s Indian Premier League last year.


YouTube aims to show more live sports in the second half of the year, said Gautam Anand, Google’s director of content partnerships for Asia Pacific, in an interview in Seoul yesterday. He declined to give details of the discussions with the NBA and NHL.


Adding live sports broadcasts may help YouTube expand revenue by keeping viewers on its site longer to woo more advertisers. YouTube’s contract to show cricket from the Indian Premier League, which gives the Google unit a share of ad revenue from games and the league’s website, brought in 55 million visits from more than 250 countries, Anand said.


“It’s fair to say that there will be a lot more appealing sports content you’ll see on YouTube,” Anand said. “We have ongoing conversations with pretty much everyone.”

NHL Announces Molson, MillerCoors As Official Beers

NEW YORK (February 22, 2011) ─ The National Hockey League (NHL) today announced a major agreement with brewers Molson Coors (NYSE: TAP) in Canada and MillerCoors in the U.S., awarding flagship brand Molson Canadian exclusive League rights in the beer sponsorship category, including the rights to the Official Beer of the NHL® designation, beginning with the 2011-12 NHL season. The deal will span seven years.

In addition to becoming the official and exclusive beer sponsor of the NHL, Molson Canadian will gain the same distinction for key League events, including NHL Face-Off™, NHL Winter Classic®, NHL Heritage Classic™, NHL All-Star, as well as the opportunity to offer consumer promotions involving the Stanley Cup. The deal also provides the brand with opportunities to engage fans through NHL media assets, NHL Network™, NHL Mobile™ and NHL Social. Molson Canadian is currently the Official Beer sponsor of many NHL teams in Canada and the U.S.

While Molson Canadian will be the lead brand on the NHL alliance in both countries, Coors Light will share some of the sponsorship assets in the U.S. and Canada.

“This partnership with Molson Coors and MillerCoors will be groundbreaking for the NHL and our fans,” said John Collins, NHL Chief Operating Officer. “Molson Canadian is an iconic brand with a rich hockey heritage and Coors Light has a track record of connecting with sports fans in innovative and effective ways. The combination of unprecedented support of our clubs and TV rightsholders with activation across the NHL’s comprehensive portfolio of marketing and media assets will create great opportunities for both brands.”

Dave Perkins, President and CEO, Molson Coors Canada, said, “Molson Canadian is synonymous with the game of hockey and was the brand that helped build the tradition of ‘Hockey Night’ across Canada. Partnering with the NHL reinforces Molson Canadian’s ‘Made from Canada’ brand position, and also reflects our company’s desire to help Canadians connect over shared passions and great beer.”

“Molson Canadian has a long history of supporting hockey at all levels and will use this platform to build momentum in the States, especially in its core markets where hockey already has a stronghold with fans,” said Andy England, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer at MillerCoors. “And Coors Light, the brand that’s all about ‘cold refreshment,’ will use the NHL partnership to strengthen its presence in NHL markets, especially in regions such as the Northeast and Great Lakes.”

The partnership between Molson Coors and MillerCoors on the NHL sponsorship is just one example of the benefits of the U.S.-based joint venture between Molson Coors and SABMiller that resulted in the establishment of MillerCoors.

NBC Sports Acquires Entire Triple Crown, VERSUS Gets Rights to Pre-Race, Additional Horse Racing Programming

This gets posted because we’re always interested when VERSUS gets the rights to something new, and we’re always interested in the actions of the NBC Sports Group. Sorry that it isn’t really hockey.

NEW YORK – February 22, 2011 – The NBC Sports Group will broadcast all three legs of horse racing’s prestigious Triple Crown, renewing the rights to the Preakness Stakes and reacquiring rights to the Belmont Stakes. As previously announced, NBC and Churchill Downs, Inc. renewed rights to the Kentucky Derby. This marks the first time that all three races will be on one network since NBC aired them in 2005. The agreements were announced today by Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Sports Group, Tom Chuckas, President and Chief Operating Officer, Maryland Jockey Club, and C. Steven Duncker, NYRA Chairman. Like NBC Sports’ agreement with Churchill Downs, each agreement announced today gives NBC exclusive rights to the Preakness and Belmont through 2015.


The agreements include coverage of the Black Eyed Susan Stakes and other Preakness-day and Belmont-day programming on VERSUS. Additionally, expanded Derby week programming including the Kentucky Oaks and Derby day programming will air on VERSUS. In all, the NBC Sports Group will broadcast more than 25 hours of Triple Crown coverage (detailed schedule to be released at a later date). Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.


“Everyone at NBC Sports Group is delighted that the Triple Crown has been reassembled. We are now uniquely positioned to significantly expand the reach of these iconic events with extensive coverage on VERSUS,” said Ebersol. “As we previously announced, we are continuing our long-standing partnership with the Kentucky Derby. To add this extension with the Preakness while reacquiring the Belmont gives our new NBC Sports Group the three most important events in thoroughbred racing. And we want to thank Churchill Downs Incorporated and CEO Bob Evans for his leadership in paving the way for the Triple Crown to return to NBC.”


“We are pleased to renew our broadcast partnership with NBC Sports,” said Chuckas. “Our relationship with NBC allows us the opportunity to reach more than just sports fans. The partnership not only affords us the stature and exposure of a continued presence on network television but provides the added benefit of NBC’s consistent promotion through the Kentucky Derby leading into the Preakness.”


“We are thrilled to return our premier race to NBC Sports,” said Duncker. “They have done a terrific job covering horse racing, including their Kentucky Derby and the Preakness broadcasts over the prior decade. With an excellent production team that has pioneered innovative camera angles, and a tremendous group of on-air talent that offers unique insights into the races, NBC Sports will be a great partner for the Belmont Stakes.”


NBC SPORTS AND HORSE RACING: The NBC Sports Group is now the exclusive home to Horse Racing’s Triple Crown. This marks the first time that all three races will be on one network since NBC last aired the Triple Crown in 2005. NBC has been the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since 2001.




KENTUCKY DERBY: In the 10 years that Churchill Downs and NBC Sports have been together the event has experienced remarkable growth. The Kentucky Derby is now seen by 7.4 million more viewers than the last Kentucky Derby broadcast by ABC in 2000 (16.5 million vs. 9.1 million, up 51 percent).


The shared vision of Churchill Downs and NBC Sports’ successful ‘Big Event Strategy’ to assemble the broadest possible audience led to the 2010 Kentucky Derby being the most-watched Kentucky Derby in 21 years, in addition to the year prior which was the most-watched Derby in 20 years. Last year’s Kentucky Derby averaged 16.5 million viewers, the most watched Kentucky Derby since 1989 when Sunday Silence won the Derby (18.5 million).


PREAKNESS STAKES: Since NBC Sports began broadcasting the Preakness in 2001, every Preakness telecast on NBC over that period attracted more viewers than any Preakness telecast on ABC in the previous seven years. Viewership for the Preakness is up an average of 69% in the 10 years on NBC compared to the previous seven years on ABC.


BELMONT STAKES: NBC Sports broadcast the Belmont from 2001-05, including three straight years in which the Belmont had a Triple Crown at stake. The 2004 Belmont featuring Smarty Jones racing for the Triple Crown was seen by 21.9 million viewers, the most for a Belmont broadcast since Seattle Slew captured the elusive Triple Crown in 1977.


Since its involvement in the Triple Crown, NBC Sports has been honored with 11 Eclipse Awards for its thoroughbred racing coverage, Preakness (2002-03-05-06-08), Kentucky Derby (2007), Belmont (2004) and Breeder’s Cup (2001). Additionally, NBC Sports has won three Eclipse Awards in the features category: 2002 on War Emblem (Preakness broadcast), 2005 Afleet Alex (Kentucky Derby broadcast) and 2009 Mine That Bird (Preakness broadcast), and the 2005 and 2006 Preakness broadcasts were nominated for the Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Sports Special.



Seven Changes I’d Make to Next Year’s Hockey Day in America

There was a lot of good that I felt came from Hockey Day in America, not the least of which was some of NBC’s best 12:30 PM ET ratings in quite a while. That said, I feel a little more can be done, and a few things can be changed. Here are my suggestions.

1. This is obvious: Get the West involved. You know who I mean. The fact that were doing Hockey Day in America without a team west of Minnesota is borderline shameful. I’m sure that the schedule makers will rectify this for 2011-12. Here’s what I’d like to see: two or three regional games at 12:30 PM ET. One of the games must feature a central time zone team (Dallas or Minnesota or Chicago) but they must be taking on an eastern time zone team (Detroit or Columbus). Don’t make fans show up as early as 11:30 AM local time to see their hockey game, you risk a pretty dead crowd, though Minnesota was definitely the best of the three early game crowds. Even look at starting at 1:00 PM ET/Noon CT to get the central teams at home.

Then, at 3:30 PM ET, I know you like having the national game of the week, but the only logistical way we’ll ever get a California team, or Colorado involved in this event is if you do a regional game. Just for California, air some combination of Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim. You can show Crosby and Ovechkin and whoever else you want to the rest of the country, but throw a bone to the West Coast like you essentially did to the cities of Washington and Buffalo this year.

2. Include a southern team. This year, we focused on hockey’s basis. There was a game in Minnesota, a lot of stuff that was based in Boston. Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, New York. Next year, let’s work on getting the places where hockey is looking to grow towards becoming part of the fabric in those areas. Tampa Bay or Carolina would be perfect to feature in a regional game as beacons of the NHL’s southern success. Those markets may not be perfect yet, but are clearly building towards becoming good places for the league. Here’s what I’d do: Say the Flyers win the Stanley Cup, just for arguments sake. You host the ceremonies from Philadelphia, and make it work like this:

12:30 PM ET
NY Rangers vs. New Jersey
Dallas vs. Detroit
Pittsburgh vs. Tampa Bay

3:30 PM ET
Chicago vs. Philadelphia
San Jose vs. Los Angeles

3. Use announcers who are typically known as national TV guys. Nothing against Jim Jackson, Ken Daniels and Pat Foley, but they seemed a bit out of place working the games they were working, with Jackson in Philadelphia, Daniels in New York and Foley in St. Paul. I’d suggest either using one announcer from both teams (ex: Jackson working with Joe Micheletti in New York) or borrow from TSN and VERSUS, using guys like Gord Miller and Chris Cuthbert and John Forslund and Dave Strader. It’s something that bugged me a bit throughout.

4. Stagger start times by 10 minutes and not five. This will just provide less confusion and more chances for everyone to see all three games. Because I was streaming Detroit/Minnesota and watching Rangers/Philadelphia, I saw very little of the Washington/Buffalo game. You stagger the start times by a little bit more, and everyone gets a chance to see a good ten minutes of every game.

5. Put all three games on Center Ice. The stream is a very cool feature that allows you to watch a couple of angles at a time, but the stream is a little weak visually (at least on my laptop). I don’t think you lose that much by putting all the regional games on NHL Center Ice, especially when you had Center Ice on a free preview for the week. At worst, allow NHL Gamecenter Live to stream everything.

6. Don’t make the VERSUS game the Heritage Classic. Nothing against the Heritage Classic, but I feel like it was just too many spectacles on the same day. I found myself growing tired at around hour eight, so perhaps make the VERSUS game that day a solid, cable-made match-up. Possibly featuring a Boston or a Buffalo or a Colorado or Minnesota against a southern team. Put the Heritage Classic on another week so that we can have all our focus be on the game that day.

7. Utilize NHL Network – Perhaps go even further, with a game in the 9:00 PM ET hour on NHL Network? At worst, use NHL Network to get people up early in the morning with perhaps a one-hour pre-pre-show for the day. It’d be cool to make this another event the NHL focuses all of it’s media properties on, something Charles Coplin talked to me about during our interview a couple of weeks ago. Allow for a little bit more storytelling that maybe NBC won’t have time for.

Once again, I dug Hockey Day in America as much as anyone, but I’d love to see it get much, much bigger, and these are merely a few suggestions that I feel are do-able. I certainly would be fine just seeing the event come back next year the way I saw it on Sunday. I’m very grateful to say that we got a full day of hockey on US television this season. It was a big win for the NHL and their fans overall.