Sabres Draw Blockbuster Numbers for Bruins Showdown

BUFFALO, N.Y. (November 30, 2011) — The Buffalo Sabres’ tilt with the Boston Bruins on Nov. 23 drew the highest television rating so far this season for telecasts on MSG. The divisional matchup posted a 12.1 rating and a 20 share regionally. Ratings for the telecast actually peaked at 14.9 during the shootout when Boston’s Benoit Pouliot beat Jhonas Enroth to seal a 4-3 victory for the Bruins.

“The matchup was arguably the most anticipated of the season,” said Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black. Our fans are awesome and we are very pleased and humbled by the fact that for the second straight month, the Buffalo Sabres’ television ratings on MSG continue to lead all US-based NHL teams.”

The 12.1 rating indicates that 12.1 percent of television-equipped households were tuned into the game at some point during the broadcast and the 20 share means 20 percent of households watching TV in the region Wednesday night were watching the game.

Last Wednesday’s ratings were the highest among the 19 Sabres games broadcast on MSG so far this season. The second-most viewed contest was the team’s home opener against Carolina on Oct. 14, which drew an 11.5 rating and 18 share regionally.

On average, MSG telecasts of Sabres games have earned an 8.81 rating regionally so far this season. The team posted the highest ratings in three years during the month October when telecasts drew an average rating of 8.3.


NBC Sports Network Starts Putting Together Their Soccer Team

NEW YORK – November 30, 2011 – Arlo White will serve as the play-by-play voice for NBC Sports Group’s coverage of Major League Soccer (MLS), starting with the first broadcast on NBC Sports Network on March 11, 2012, it was announced today.

“Arlo is one of the top voices calling soccer today in the U.S., and we are very excited to have him be the lead play-by-play announcer to launch our new agreement with Major League Soccer,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. “I also want to sincerely thank the Seattle Sounders FC ownership for making Arlo available, so he can be the MLS voice for the NBC Sports Group to a national audience.”

White, who spent the last two years as the play-by-play voice for the Seattle Sounders FC of MLS on television and radio, is a native of England. He previously spent nine years with BBC Radio Sport in England where he was part of the BBC Radio 5-Live announcing team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. White also served as a host on BBC Radio 5 Live and hosted the station’s flagship Premier League Football show, Saturday 5 Live Sport, as well as the Monday Night Club alongside BBC football commentator John Motson.

“It is a tremendous honor for me to join the NBC Sports Group, an organization that I have revered from afar for many years,” said White. “I am extremely passionate about the future of Major League Soccer, and this partnership with NBC will provide a huge boost for the sport in the United States. I am very proud to have been called up to play a major role in it.

“I am indebted to the Seattle Sounders FC and the club’s wonderful fans,” White added. “Joe Roth and Adrian Hanauer provided me with an opportunity for which I will always be grateful. It was a privilege to serve as the voice of the Sounders, and I thank the supporters for giving me such a warm welcome.”

From 2002 to 2005, White was part of the 5 Live Breakfast program on the BBC, where he covered, among other events, the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa, the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and various Champions League football matches.

The remainder of the NBC Sports Group’s MLS broadcasters will be announced at a later date.

In August, Major League Soccer (MLS) and the NBC Sports Group announced a three-year media rights agreement that commences at the start of the 2012 MLS season. The partnership calls for 46 MLS games and four U.S. National Team contests to be televised live across both NBC and NBC Sports Network each season and live-streamed on This agreement was the first rights deal for the NBC Sports Network, which will be re-branded from VERSUS on January 2, 2012.

Each season, NBC will broadcast three regular-season MLS games, two playoff games and two appearances by the U.S. National Team, marking the first time four MLS matches will be broadcast on network television since 2002. The NBC Sports Network will televise 38 regular-season games, three playoff games and two U.S. National Team matches. All telecasts on NBC and NBC Sports Network will consist of pre-game and post-game coverage. will live stream all NBC Sports Group matches and will add bonus features similar to its NFL and NHL streams.

Along with MLS telecasts on five Comcast SportsNets (Philadelphia, New England, Bay Area, Mid-Atlantic and Chicago), this agreement provides The League with coverage across the NBC Sports Group’s unique four-tier portfolio of assets: broadcast network, national cable, regional sports networks and digital platforms.

VGTRK Aquires Russian TV Rights

NEW YORK (November 30, 2011) – The National Hockey League (NHL) and the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK | RTR) today announced the signing of an agreement giving the Russian broadcaster the rights to telecast live NHL® games.

VGTRK | RTR will show multiple games per week, which will be shared between their free-to-air channel Rossiya 2 and their sports channel Sport 1. Rossiya 2 is received by a potential 80 million viewers and Sport 1 by 3.5 million, making this deal a significant addition to the League’s International TV distribution.

“Providing NHL games on television in Russia is important given that some of the League’s biggest stars such as Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin were born, grew up and began their hockey careers there,” said John Collins, NHL chief operating officer. “This agreement is one way we are providing fans throughout Russia with the NHL content that they demand and the ability to follow their hometown heroes throughout their NHL careers.”

The addition of VGTRK | RTR as a broadcast partner follows a number of distribution agreements reached this season with international broadcasters throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as the landmark distribution partnership between the NHL and MTG to provide live coverage of all 1,230 regular-season games and every Stanley Cup® Playoffs game throughout the Nordic region, including Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway.

In July of 2011, Advisers Media International (AMI) and Medge Consulting secured the international media rights for the NHL. The rights cover international markets tendered by the NHL, including Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In addition to marketing the NHL’s media rights, AMI and Medge have also been appointed to develop the international brand and profile of the NHL and develop and market new events.

VERSUS Numbers From Last Week

November 21
NY Islanders vs. Pittsburgh 198,000

November 22
Los Angeles vs. St. Louis 245,000

(Source: John Ourand)

Local Ratings For Thanksgiving Showdown

Detroit (WDIV): 5.3/13
Boston (WHDH): 5.9/17

Local Ratings for last year’s Red Wings-Bruins NBC game

Boston (WHDH): 2.1/6
Detroit (WDIV):

Handicapping NBC’s Flex Schedule As We Head a Little Closer to New Year’s

I figure why not have a little fun and see if any predictions from the beginning of the season have changed. My picks are in bold. Everyone can make their guesses in the comments.

January 2
NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia*

January 14
Chicago vs. Detroit*

January 22
Boston vs. Philadelphia OR Washington vs. Pittsburgh

February 12
Washington vs. NY Rangers OR Philadelphia vs. Detroit

February 19 (Hockey Day in America)
San Jose vs. Detroit*
12:30 Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo*
12:30 St. Louis vs. Chicago*
3:30 Boston vs. Minnesota

March 4
Boston vs. NY Rangers OR Philadelphia vs. Washington

March 11
Los Angeles vs. Chicago OR Boston vs. Pittsburgh

March 18
12:30 Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh
OR Washington vs. Chicago

Apr. 1
12:30 Boston vs. NY Rangers
OR Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh

Apr. 7
Buffalo vs. Boston OR Washington vs. NY Rangers OR Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh OR Chicago vs. Detroit

* – Non-Flex

Your NHL National TV Schedule For the Week of November 28

Monday, November 28

Tampa Bay vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS/TSN2
Play by Play:
Dave Strader
Inside the Glass: Brian Engblom

Tuesday, November 29

Pittsburgh vs. NY Rangers, 7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS/TSN2
Play by Play:
Mike Emrick
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

Nashville vs. Calgary, 9:30 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play:
Gord Miller
Inside the Glass: Mike Johnson

Wednesday, November 30

Boston vs. Toronto, 7:00 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play:
Chris Cuthbert
Inside the Glass: Ray Ferraro

Tampa Bay vs. Detroit, 7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS/TSN2
Play by Play:
Mike Emrick
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

Minnesota vs. Edmonton, 9:30 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play:
Gord Miller
Inside the Glass: Mike Johnson

Thursday, December 1

Pittsburgh vs. Washington, 7:00 p.m. ET, NHL Network

Friday, December 2

Detroit vs. Buffalo, 7:30 p.m. ET, NHL Network

Saturday, December 3

Montreal vs. Los Angeles, 3:00 p.m. ET, CBC/NHL Network
Play by Play:
Bob Cole
Color: Gary Galley
Cassie Campbell

Toronto vs. Boston, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC/NHL Network
Play by Play:
Jim Hughson
Color: Craig Simpson
Inside the Glass: Glenn Healy
Reporter: Andi Petrillo

Ottawa vs. Washington, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC
Play by Play:
Dean Brown
Color: Greg Millen

New Jersey vs. Winnipeg, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC
Play by Play:
Rick Ball
Color: Kevin Weekes
Reporter: Mitch Peacock

Calgary vs. Edmonton, 10:00 p.m. ET, CBC
Play by Play:
Mark Lee
Color: Daryl Reaugh
Reporter: Scott Oake

I Love NHL Network, But Maybe Don’t Cut Away From Hockey Night So Fast?

I don’t know what it is about Hockey Night in Canada. Even as the talent surrounding the game in the studio turns almost vaudevillian – Hotstove is frequently a mess aside from the intelligent and finite Elliotte Friedman; I’m convinced Grapes has no remembrance of any of those clips the crew calls up to prove his opinions correct, and did we really need to lose Jeff Marek and Scott Morrison, who made the iDesk as much a must-watch as anything? – you throw Bob Cole or Jim Hughson on the air for two hours with anyone and I’m there. Literally, those two or so good that I’d listen to them call a game with a brick wall, or that robot from the Craig Ferguson show. All of Hockey Night’s best play-by-play men just know how to evoke a moment and make it seem like, in a season with 1,200 games that can often run together, this one right now is the most important you’ll ever see. The one where, to quote Bob Cole, “everything is happening”.

So here’s my problem: the Penguins-Canadiens broadcast from Saturday night, as simulcast on NHL Network, was one of those games. It had everything: breakneck pace, hard hitting, controversy at both ends, and an increasingly rare, on-his-game Bob Cole at the mic with the fine Gary Galley and the unwelcome at Jeremy Roenick and Anson Carter’s house Glenn Healy. It had Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang suffering a broken nose from a hit to the head by Max Pacioretty of all people (half of Twitter immediately sang out “Call the police!”) and then showed Letang scoring the game-winning goal in overtime on a controversial play in which Montreal goaltender Carey Price felt he’d covered the puck but had it dislodged and sent to Letang for the winner. There was so much for Cole and the rest of the HNIC crew to break down that it seemed like it’d take minutes for them to sort everything out.

Yet, for viewers in the United States, that was not the case. Within less than 60 seconds of the game’s end, we were abruptly sent to NHL On the Fly, which gave hardly any recap from Brian Duff and Mike Johnson and moved on with the typical show they had been doing for NHL Network viewers in Canada, no doubt more likely tuning into, you know… Freaking Hockey Night in Canada! It was confusing, disappointing, and flat-out unacceptable, and here’s why:

  • The NHL Network Crew Barely Broke the Game Down Themselves. Brian Duff and Mike Johnson are good at what they do, and On the Fly is a great show, but it was a show that stuck remarkably to format. After a cursory, brief recap of what had happened in the controversial finish, they moved on to highlights from the Devils-Islanders game from 1 p.m. this afternoon. We would need to wait nearly half an hour for any cogent analysis of the thing, while I’m sure Hockey Night in Canada did nothing but talk about what had just happened in the post-game up until the start of game two of the doubleheader, San Jose vs. Vancouver.
  • They Didn’t Even Let the Game Announcers Finish. Bob Cole is a legendary hockey broadcaster. I don’t care if he’s 6,000 years old and watched Newsy Lalonde play as a young boy, I want to hear everything that man has to say. Instead, they cut into the wrap-up from the game’s broadcasters. I can understand not wanting to hear Ron MacLean and Don Cherry schmooze about the three stars and whatever else is rattling through Don’s brain (Kyle Wellwood = good, Montreal = bad?) but to not let them show enough replays of the controversial game winner and get Healy and Galley’s take on what happened for the brief take of two broadcasters whom, mind you, finished their shift five minutes later and gave way to Kathryn Tappen and Jamie McLennan? Not good. Also, missing out on Carey Price’s full breakdown and, what I assume, was Kris Letang getting tired of high fiving literally everyone on the planet? Also not good.
  • Actually, to be Honest, I Do Want to Hear What Ron and Don Thought of That. I lied. That ending was so compelling, violent and exciting, I want to hear the opinions of the often fiery Hockey Night studio folk. I want to hear Elliotte Friedman cheekily mention what the fans are saying on Twitter, and have Don say that was a dirty hit by Pacioretty and he should know better and also get off his lawn. Give me Kelly Hrudey and Mike Milbury, and even poor, poor PJ Stock and his delusions arguing about that final goal and whether Pacioretty would get suspended. Give me Eric Francis’ poor wardrobe choices. Just don’t give me two guys who are off the clock in a stone’s throw moving on after a minute.

Look, I’m sure there are games when it’s perfectly fine to cut away from Hockey Night immediately, like after last week’s awful Toronto blowout of Washington. But when you’ve got something good, you don’t take your viewers off of it to send them to something different. I know the NHL and NHL Network love On the Fly as their flagship program, but honestly, most fans would prefer the network just show the second game of the doubleheader live anyway. It isn’t that important that you need to cut the HNIC folks before they even get there say, especially when it might be worth something. It isn’t that important, period.

NBC Draws Pretty Much The Same Rating For Game in November That They Do For Games The Rest of the Year

The NHL and NBC put a lot of marketing muscle behind the first-ever Thanksgiving Showdown, between promotion on Sunday Night Football, and a pretty decent commercial behind it, but in the end the numbers were pretty much the same as what I’ve been posting on this website for years now.

The game between the Red Wings and Bruins – a shootout win for Detroit – drew a 1.0 overnight. It is believed that no NHL game has aired on network television this early in the season since at least the 1970’s, and perhaps not ever, so there’s nothing really to compare it to. A February 13th Boston-Detroit game from last year drew an 0.9, while only two non-special (Hockey Day/Winter Classic) NBC telecasts from last year were better. The NHL and NBC looked to start a tradition here, and I suppose you have to start somewhere. The NHL On NBC returns on January 2nd with the Rangers and Flyers in the Winter Classic.

NHL On NBC Overnights This Season
November 25 – Detroit vs. Boston:

NHL On NBC Overnights For 2010-11 Season
January 1 – Washington vs. Pittsburgh: 
January 23 – Philadelphia vs. Chicago:
February 6 – Pittsburgh vs. Washington: 
February 13 – Boston vs. Detroit: 
February 20 – Regional Coverage*: 
February 20 – Pittsburgh vs. Chicago*: 
March 6 – Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers: 0.9
March 13 – Chicago vs. Washington: 0.9
March 20 – NY Rangers vs. Pittsburgh: 0.7
April 3 – NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia: 1.0
April 10 – Detroit vs. Chicago: 1.1
Season Average: 1.1

2011 Stanley Cup Playoff Overnights

Apr. 16 – Phoenix vs. Detroit, Game 2: 1.1 
Apr. 17 – Washington vs. NY Rangers, Game 3: 
Apr. 23 – NY Rangers vs. Washington, Game 5: 1.3
Apr. 24 – Philadelphia vs. Buffalo, Game 6: 1.6
Apr. 30 – Boston vs. Philadelphia, Game 1: 1.5
May 1 – Detroit vs. San Jose, Game 2: 1.6
May 21 – Boston vs. Tampa Bay, Game 4: 1.5
May 22 – Vancouver vs. San Jose, Game 4: 1.3
Average To Date: 1.4

NHL on NBC Overnights for 2009-10 Season

Jan. 1, Philadelphia vs. Boston*: 2.6
Jan. 17, Chicago vs. Detroit: 
Jan. 24, Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia: 
Jan. 31, Detroit vs. Pittsburgh: 
Feb. 7, Pittsburgh vs. Washington: 
Mar. 7, Detroit vs. Chicago: 
Mar. 14, Washington vs. Chicago: 
Mar. 21, NY Rangers vs. Boston: 0.7
Apr. 4, Detroit vs. Philadelphia: 1.0
Apr. 11, Boston vs. Washington: 0.9
Season Average: 1.2

2010 Stanley Cup Playoff Overnights

Apr. 17 – Boston vs. Buffalo, Game 2: 1.2
Apr. 18 – Phoenix vs. Detroit, Game 3: 1.5
Apr. 24 – Nashville vs. Chicago, Game 5: 1.3
Apr. 25 – Phoenix vs. Detroit, Game 6: 1.3
May 1 – Philadelphia vs. Boston, Game 1: 1.6
May 2 – Montreal vs. Pittsburgh, Game 2: 1.6
May 16 – Chicago vs. San Jose, Game 1: 1.7
May 22 – Philadelphia vs. Montreal, Game 4: 1.6
May 23 – San Jose vs. Chicago, Game 4: 2.0
Playoff Average: 1.5

2009 Stanley Cup Playoff Overnights

Apr. 18 – NY Rangers vs. Washington, Game 2: 1.0
Apr. 19 – Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia, Game 3: 1.7
Apr. 25 – Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia, Game 6: 1.2
Apr. 26 – Washington vs. NY Rangers, Game 6: 1.0
May 2 – Pittsburgh vs. Washington, Game 1: 1.4
May 3 – Anaheim vs. Detroit, Game 2: 1.3
May 17 – Chicago vs. Detroit, Game 1: 2.0
May 24 – Detroit vs. Chicago, Game 4: 1.5
Playoff Average: 1.3

Hockey Night in Canada Ratings Through American Thanksgiving

CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada

October 6
7:00 Montreal vs. Toronto –
1.94 million
10:00 Pittsburgh vs. Vancouver – 989,000

October 8
7:00 Ottawa vs. Toronto –
2.54 million
10:00 Pittsburgh vs. Calgary – 1.01 million

October 9
6:00 Montreal vs. Winnipeg –
1.83 million

October 15
7:00 Regional Action (feat. CGY/TOR, COL/MTL, OTT/WSH, WPG/PHX) –
2.12 million
10:00 Vancouver vs. Edmonton – 1.17 million

October 22
7:00 Regional Action (feat. TOR/MTL, CLB/OTT, CAR/WPG) –
2.17 million
10:00 NY Rangers vs. Edmonton – 752,000

October 29
7:00 Regional Action (feat. PIT/TOR, BOS/MTL, WPG/TB) –
2.29 million
10:00 Washington vs. Vancouver – 1.09 million

November 5
7:00 Regional Action (feat. BOS/TOR, BUF/OTT, WPG/NJ, MTL/NYR) –
2.04 million
10:00 Edmonton vs. Phoenix – 696,000

November 12
7:00 Regional Action (feat. OTT/TOR, MTL/NSH, WPG/CLB) –
2.25 million
10:00 Calgary vs. Colorado – 757,000

November 19
3:00 Philadelphia vs. Winnipeg –
7:00 Regional Action (feat. WSH/TOR, NYR/MTL) – 2.08 million
10:00 Chicago vs. Edmonton – 948,000

November 21
7:00 NY Islanders vs. Pittsburgh –
1.2 million

(Source: Canadian Sports Media Blog)