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.

Your Announcers and Open Thread For Caps-Pens

Washington vs. Pittsburgh, 7:30 PM ET, VERSUS (HD)
Play by Play:
Dave Strader
Color: Darren Eliot
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

Hockey Day in America Does Consistent, Season-High Business For NBC

Hockey Day in America turned out to be a relative success for NBC and the NHL, ratings-wise.

An NBC Sports spokesmen tells Puck the Media this afternoon that both the 12:30 PM ET regional window (Philadelphia/NY Rangers, Minnesota/Detroit and Washington/Buffalo) and the 3:30 PM ET national Game of the Week featuring Pittsburgh vs. Chicago drew a 1.2 in the overnights, both season highs for NBC’s coverage of hockey, aside from the Winter Classic. The windows are up 25% from last week’s 12:30 PM ET broadcast of Boston/Detroit, which drew an 0.9 overnight.

There is no comparable date for the NHL on NBC last year, as the network was airing the Olympics that week in 2010. However, two years ago the network aired Penguins/Capitals on the comparable date and drew a 1.1, marking an 8.3% improvement for this year’s broadcast. While it may be a small bump, the fact is that the regional games, doubleheader, later timeslot and general curiosity led to a decent start for the league and network’s new hockey tradition.

Through six telecasts (on five dates) The NHL On NBC is averaging a 1.3 overnight rating.

NHL On NBC Overnights This Season
January 1 – Washington vs. Pittsburgh:
January 23 – Philadelphia vs. Chicago: 1.1
February 6 – Pittsburgh vs. Washington: 1.0
February 13 – Boston vs. Detroit: 0.9
February 20 – Regional Coverage*: 1.2
February 20 – Pittsburgh vs. Chicago*: 1.2
Season-to-Date Average: 1.3

Don Cherry to Return for 2011-12

Don Cherry’s not going anywhere, at least not for another season of Hockey Night in Canada.

The outspoken commentator renewed his contract with HNIC through the 2011-2012 season, CBC announced on Saturday.

“Don has been a part of the CBC Hockey Night in Canada family since 1980, generating passion and debate among hockey fans everywhere,” said Kirstine Stewart, executive vice-president of CBC English Services.

“Hockey Night in Canada, with Don at the desk for its 59th season, will continue to bring the very best of hockey programming on all of its platforms to Canadians everywhere.”

Cherry will continue to co-host his hugely popular first intermission Coach’s Corner segment with Ron MacLean every Saturday night and through the duration of the Stanley Cup playoffs next season.

“We join millions of fans in congratulating Don on his new contract and wishing him continued success as the declarative voice of CBC’s definitive hockey broadcast,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

“Don’s knowledge of the sport is exceeded only by his love for it and we are proud of his enduring connection with the game and the National Hockey League. He truly is one of a kind, and it is an honour to consider him a friend.”

The 77-year-old Canadian icon joined Hockey Night in Canada in 1980 after a successful coaching career with the Boston Bruins and Colorado Rockies from 1974-80, winning the Jack Adams coach of the year award in 1976 during his time with Boston.

Jeremy Roenick Joins NHL Overtime

The NHL’s Heritage Classic on Sunday won’t be the only time you’ll see personable former NHL star Jeremy Roenick on the VERSUS airwaves.

The entertaining, popular, TV-friendly Roenick – who has been plying his new trade with NBC, TSN and NHL Network since he retired – will appear on VERSUS’ nightly program NHL Overtime every night this week along with Billy Jaffe and hosts Bill Pidto and Liam McHugh. This will be the first time Roenick has appeared in the network’s Stamford, CT studios. The show will air at 11:00 PM ET Monday, Wednesday and Thursday this week, and 11:30 PM ET on Tuesday night.

No word on whether or not this is a permanent move, but it’ll be good to see if Roenick can hack it at the nightly hockey show, and maybe make a few headlines. Can’t question NHL Overtime’s ability to get the bigger names in US hockey broadcasting, as Mike Milbury, Eddie Olczyk and many others have been a part of the rotating cast of the studio show. If anything, it keeps JR in the VERSUS/NBC stable until the Peacock net can use him during the post-season.

Hockey Day in America Takes the Simple Route to a Lovely Tribute to Hockey

NHL Executive Vice President of Events Charles Coplin pitched Hockey Day in America to this writer last week as a “love letter to hockey fans” and it is hard not to feel smitten the morning after. While there were a few things that could stand fixing, and I’ll talk about them in this space tomorrow, I found the first ever Hockey Day to be watchable (key when you’re pitching six and a half hours of hockey to a viewer), enjoyable, and a loving tribute to the game I’ve spent 15 years appreciating so much. It was also a sign that NBC, unlike any other network that has televised hockey in the past 17 years, is making an effort to show hockey fans that they “get” the sport. While nothing is perfect about The NHL On NBC (we still have to put up with 12:30 ET starts and the same teams over and over) the people at the network running the coverage seems to get what makes hockey great, and why hockey fans think hockey is great, not what the “general sports columnist” at your local paper thinks makes hockey great.

Starting at Noon, and with the hockey not ending until 6:30 PM ET (pre-empting the local news in the Eastern and Central time zones) there was very little filler to be had throughout the day. The pre-game show was well done with a solid, understated hosting job by Liam McHugh, who did what so many analysts posing as hosts on NBC have not been able to do – get us from one thing to another. If you looked hard enough, you could slowly picture him aging into Ron MacLean. Mike Milbury did a solid job of kind of toning his act down, and Eddie Olczyk was his usual enthusiastic self, and in a way kind of more perfect for this sort of thing than he is for game analysis. It might go unnoticed sometimes, but Olczyk is always a proper ambassador for USA Hockey during NHL On NBC telecasts, and on Sunday that shone through.

The features were all fairly charming in their own way. The story on Jerry Bruckheimer’s celebrity hockey game was cool if only for that picture of himself, Mike Myers, Marty McSorely and Wayne Gretzky. Neal Henderson, head of the inner-city Fort Dupont hockey program, was a fantastic voice for a program that’s doing good works beyond just teaching hockey. I was not aware of the Boston Blades at all before Hockey Day’s spotlight on the lone American team in the Canadian Women’s league, and I hope more people come to notice them. Even the McDonald’s branded features didn’t border on cheesy. I’m sure dad took me to the Golden Arches once or twice after a game.

Once we got to the actual games, there were a few issues that, again, I’ll pick up tomorrow, but it was just fun to have hockey on and available. I had the Rangers/Flyers game on my TV with the stream of Red Wings/Flyers on my laptop. I think it would serve NBC well to do two or three more of these NFL-style doubleheaders, with two or three regional games in the early slot leading into a national game of the week. Sometimes it’s great just to have hockey on for hours and hours and just enjoy this magnificent sport.

Everything seemed to click for NBC on Sunday. The 12:30 games had their low moments, but the final game to end in the slot had an exciting overtime and a shootout to lead-in to the late game, which also had an exciting overtime and shootout, between two of America’s most fervent hockey markets to boot. The interviews with players were fun and informative about the road to the NHL, even Scott Gomez’s piece from Calgary’s Heritage Classic was worth the time. Though I gotta’ imagine that when Gomer makes fun of his teammates for not being tough, they snap back by saying he’s a $7 million man with a minus-18.

In the end, Hockey Day in America (which needs to return bigger and better next year) did two things. For starters, it explained the sometimes confusing path players take to the NHL. From Mike Emrick to Olczyk, to McGuire to McHugh, not a step or league or team was skipped out on that a player would take on the road to making the National Hockey League as an American player. Most importantly, however, they made six hours of hockey (nine if you count VERSUS) seem like the only logical thing to spend your Sunday afternoon doing. It certainly seemed that way to me.

Your Announcers and Open Thread For a Ridiculous Day of Hockey

Hockey Day in America on NBC

Regional Split Map Here

Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers, 12:30 PM ET
Airing in 54 % of the Country
Play by Play:
Ken Daniels
Inside the Glass:
Joe Micheletti

Detroit vs. Minnesota, 12:30 PM ET
Airing in 40% of the Country
Play by Play:
Pat Foley
Inside the Glass: Darren Pang

Buffalo vs. Washington, 12:30 PM ET
Airing in 6% of the Country
Play by Play:
Jim Jackson
Inside the Glass:
Ray Ferraro

Pittsburgh vs. Chicago, 3:30 PM ET, NBC (HD)
Play by Play:
Mike Emrick
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

Montreal vs. Calgary, 6:00 PM ET
National TV (Canada):
Play by Play: Jim Hughson
Color: Craig Simpson
Inside the Glass: Glenn Healy
Reporter: Scott Oake

National TV (US): VERSUS (HD)
Play by Play: Dave Strader
Color: Andy Brickley
Inside the Glass: Brian Engblom