Five Ways To Make Black Friday on NBC Special
April 21, 2011 13 Comments
One of the more under-discussed parts of the new television deal is that NBC plans to add a game on the Friday after Thanksgiving, making it the earliest an NHL game has been broadcast on network television in it’s history. This is a perfect idea. There’s very little on television aside from some college football, and many NHL teams already play matinees on the date. It is also usually a day when men are hanging out at home with a day off, not necessarily participating in the madness of Black Friday, or at least doing so online. Since NBC’s key demo is young males, this makes perfect sense.
That said, how do you differentiate from the other broadcasts NBC does throughout the season? How do you get it to move the needle like the Winter Classic, or even slightly, like Hockey Day in America? Here’s a few suggestions.
1. If Possible, Have It Be a Rematch of the Stanley Cup Final. If the two teams in the prior year’s Stanley Cup Final are both American. Sorry, Canadian fans, but this is an early chance to connect with the American public, and we don’t need to run down all the reasons why Canadian NHL teams aren’t often on US national television. If there was a Canadian-American Stanley Cup Final, simply pick the all-American conference final, if there is one. Stanley Cup re-matches have proven very popular for the league’s TV partners over the past few years, and it wouldn’t be another way to cynically package Pittsburgh and Washington again.
2. If Not, Do an Original Six Day. Here’s how you get Canadian teams involved, do regional coverage of all six of the original NHL franchises going at it. You get the CBC involved too, they can air a Toronto game nationally and Montreal regionally or vice versa. TSN could air the all-American game. Something akin to this:
- NY Rangers vs. Chicago
- Boston vs. Montreal
- Detroit vs. Toronto
While Canadian teams can often be a cancer on ratings, the original six teams – when packaged with the right US opponent – can score well, sort of like how the Green Bay Packers are a very popular team nationally, despite playing in a very small market.
3. Legends, Legends, Legends. If the game is Pittsburgh vs. Detroit, guarantee me that Mario Lemieux and Gordie Howe and all the legendary players that have worn those two sweaters – certainly more on the Detroit side – will be involved. Invite one guest in for 10 minutes each in a period, and just get their perspective on the game. I imagine Mario might have something interesting to save if there’s a hit up high.
4. Retro Jerseys. Remember that were doing this game on the biggest shopping day of the year, so break out some “new old” jerseys and colors to be able to sell on Shop.NHL.com or in the catalogues and at the arenas. I know the Winter Classic is a separate entity and built on more than just merch sales, but this certainly could be a good platform for the NHL to get everyone in the mood to buy hockey for Christmas.
5. Special MVP Trophy. On FOX, CBS and NFL Network coverage of the Thanksgiving Day football game, the MVP of the game is given a quirky trophy – known has the “Galloping Gobbler” on FOX, the “All-Iron Award” on CBS, and “The Pudding Pie Award” on NFL Net – for his efforts. Do something like this for the NHL game. Give something quirky out that players will jokingly take a shot at, and then have the player interviewed at center ice after the game with his helmet off. It’d be a good showcase for a star player, and at least be less ridiculous than the All-Star Game MVP.