Your Announcers and Open Thread for Night 35 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Phoenix vs. Los Angeles, Game 3, 9:00 p.m. ET

US National TV: NBC Sports Network
Play by Play: Dave Strader
Color: Darren Pang
Inside the Glass: Brian Engblom

Canada National TV: TSN
Play by Play: Chris Cuthbert
Inside the Glass: Ray Ferraro

Buccigross to Call Frozen Four as Part of New ESPN Deal

The Frozen Four has a new voice behind the mic starting with the 2013 tournament in Pittsburgh, and televised NHL action remains without one of the best studio hosts it has ever had for at least five more years.

SportsCenter host John Buccigross will remain with ESPN for at least the next five years. During that tenure, he will continue to host SportsCenter and write his hockey column for ESPN.com. In addition to that, Buccigross will take over as the play-by-play voice for ESPN’s coverage of the NCAA Frozen Four hockey championships.

Buccigross had previously done NCAA regionals since 2006, while Gary Thorne had called the Frozen Four. Buccigross hosted NHL2Night from 1998-2004, during which the show was nominated for an Emmy. He currently hosts three hours of the mid-day SportsCenter.

Your Announcers and Open Thread for Night 34 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs

New Jersey vs. New York, Game 2, 8:00 p.m. ET

US National TV: NBC Sports Network
Play by Play: Mike Emrick
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

Canada National TV: CBC
Play by Play: Jim Hughson
Color: Craig Simpson
Inside the Glass: Glenn Healy
Reporter: Elliotte Friedman

NBC’s Preakness Policy In Effect This Saturday

For the second time this year, hockey will lead into horse racing. NBC has laid out a similar plan from the Kentucky Derby for the second leg of the triple crown, the Preakness.

According to an NBC Sports spokesperson, Game 3 between the Rangers and Devils in the Eastern Conference Final will air on NBC, starting at 1:00 p.m. ET. NBC will stick with the game through two potential overtimes. If the games goes to a third overtime, viewers in the New York market will stay with the game until a winner is decided. The rest of the country will need to switch over to CNBC for the rest of the game, while viewers in New York who really want to see horsies can see that on CNBC.

There is currently no alternate solution for viewers in Baltimore, who see Preakness coverage all day on their NBC affiliate as the home market to the race. That said, the game will be streamed on NBCSports.com, but if I hear of an alternate solution, I’ll pass it along.

Your Announcers and Open Thread for Night 33 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Los Angeles vs. Phoenix, Game 2 (LA Leads 1-0), 9:00 p.m. ET

US National TV: NBC Sports Network
Play by Play: Dave Strader
Color: Darren Pang
Inside the Glass: Brian Engblom

Canada National TV: TSN
Play by Play: Chris Cuthbert
Inside the Glass: Ray Ferraro

New York and Los Angeles Are Not the Key to Record NHL Ratings, Even if Everyone Keeps Telling You It Is

I’ve read a lot of stories in the past few days about how a Stanley Cup Final between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings would be the best thing to ever happen to the NHL. It would set record ratings, no doubt, with the top two television markets involved. Damien Cox said so, The Globe and Mail thought a New York-Los Angeles final would cap a massive run of great fortune for Gary Bettman, Bruce Dowbiggin feels it could set new benchmarks in American ratings as well, and venerable ratings rabblerouser Variety thinks ratings could soar.

I’m not so easily convinced. I’ve been right a couple of times in these playoffs when it comes to ratings, so I think I deserve a shot at telling you why all of these sources are probably wrong, at least short term. Would a Game 7 between the Rangers and Kings likely shoot at that record we saw for Boston and Vancouver last June? Almost definitely. But the NHL would likely face a slow build getting there, as New York and Los Angeles are fractured when it comes to hockey interest.

Game 7 of the Rangers-Capitals conference semifinal drew a 4.8 in the New York market. Not a bad number, a record for NBC. But it was still getting trounced by literally every game of the five-game laughingstock that was the New York Knicks against the Miami Heat. Game 6 of the series got beaten, not only by the Knicks, but by a regular season Yankees game against Tampa Bay. It’s also a bit of potentially upsetting news for NBC Sports Network, as the much more well-known MSG drew a 5.7 rating for the Rangers first-round Game 7 against the Senators.

Could the team see numbers inflate to “Knicks Round 1” levels by the time the Final hits? We won’t honestly know. Their Eastern Conference Final is against the New Jersey Devils, a team that shares the New York market, and drew between a 2.0-2.5 rating for their second round series against Philadelphia. A 6.5-7.0 rating would be considered good (we’ll probably have a solid number shortly after this publishes), but not an accurate representation of the fanbase. The next time we’ll be able to see that would be Game 1 of a Stanley Cup Final.

While New York is doing pretty well, the team still has to share headlines on New York talk radio with middling Mets and Yankees teams, Tebowmania, and people already curious about the Knicks off-season. you’d almost think that getting stopped here, and making the run for the Stanley Cup next year, would be better because the base is likely to be more hungry for the championship a year after almost getting there, as with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009 and 2010.

Los Angeles is proving even more problematic. There are simply fewer diehard hockey fans in LA, and even more storylines hurting the Kings potential for ratings glory. Both the Lakers and Clippers are still in the post-season, and basketball has always been LA’s first love. The Dodgers are riding the Magic Johnson-purchase-led resurgence, the Angels are a bloody fascinating mess with Albert Pujols on their squad.

It shows in the numbers. A 2.1 for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final simply isn’t going to cut it for the #2 television market. Even more upsetting is that’s a record for NBC Sports Network. Which is double upsetting, because VERSUS once televised two games of an Anaheim Ducks Stanley Cup Final. Los Angeles seems like another market where winning next year after a great run this year would be better.

But you can’t always get what you want, as it’s an unpredictable sport. Both these teams won Game 1 of their series. There’s a good shot we’ll see one or both in the Stanley Cup Final. Yes, having Broadway and Hollywood involved in the Stanley Cup Final would be fantastic, a dream for a league that still needs to win fans back in both markets from the lockout. But those two markets are just not at the right level to bring in record ratings at this point. It had better be a great series, or else it might be diehards only until at least Game 5. I think some, probably all, of the people thinking that aren’t necessary looking that deep into this, and just seeing the bright lights of the big cities.

Game 7’s 1.6 Million Leads NBC to Most-Watched Semifinals On Record

NEW YORK – May 14, 2012 – The NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the first two rounds of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs have averaged 1.06 million viewers, making the Conference Quarterfinals and Conference Semifinals the most-watched first two rounds on record (sine 1994, when cable program data started). On NBC, NBC Sports Network and CNBC, the 2012 Conference Semifinals averaged 1.32 million viewers, making them the most-watched Conference Semifinals on record. More than 39 million total viewers have watched the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs on NBC, NBC Sports Network and CNBC, up 23% vs. last year (32.2).

 

CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

 

According to Fast National data released by The Nielsen Company, the 2012 Conference Semifinals:

 

• Averaged 1.29 million viewers on the NBC Sports Network, up 43% percent vs. last year and the best on record for a single cable network.

 

• Averaged 1.32 million viewers across NBC, the NBC Sports Network & CNBC, up 28% vs. last year and the best on record.

 

RANGERS – CAPITALS GAME 7

 

Saturday night’s Game 7 between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals was watched by 1.68 million viewers on the NBC Sports Network, making it the second most-watched 2012 Conference Semifinal game on cable. Game 3 of the series, which was won by the Rangers in triple overtime, was watched by 1.85 million viewers, making it the most-watched Conference Semifinal game of 2012. The NBC Sports Network was the No. 1 network overall in both markets during the game.

 

• In New York, Rangers-Capitals Game 7 received a 4.8 HH rating, the highest local rating ever in the market for a NHL game on the NBC Sports Network. The telecast was up 129 % vs. 2008’s two-game average (2.07).

 

• In Washington, Rangers-Capitals Game 7 received a 7.67 HH rating, the second-highest local rating ever in the market for a NHL game on the NBC Sports Network. The telecast was up 19% vs. the market’s 2011 Semifinal average (6.45).

 

KINGS-COYOTES GAME 1

 

Last night’s Western Conference Final Game 1 between the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes delivered record ratings for both local markets. The NBC Sports Network was the highest-rated cable network in both local markets during the telecast of the game.

 

• In Los Angeles, Game 1 received a 2.14 HH rating, the highest local rating ever in the market for a NHL game on the NBC Sports Network.

 

• In Phoenix, Game 1 received a 5.56 HH rating, the highest local rating ever in the market for a NHL game on the NBC Sports Network.

 

Final national ratings will be available shortly.

Mike Fisher, Wife of Some Notoriety to Be Interviewed By Oprah

Has a hockey player ever gotten the Oprah treatment? Well, one (in conjunction with his slightly more famous wife) is about to.

Mike Fisher, and his lovely bride – multi-platinum country crooner Carrie Underwood – will have Ms. Winfrey pay them a visit on the next episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter, which will air on the OWN network (not OLN) May 20th at 9 p.m. ET.

The network says it will be “marking the first time cameras have ever been invited inside their cabin retreat for an intimate, in-depth interview. Underwood reflects on her rise to stardom as she looks back on her journey. For theirfirst television interview together, Underwood and Fisher talk about how they balance their successful and fast-paced careers with their two year marriage. The couple also takes Winfrey to their new plot of land where they plan to build their dream home.” So, if you’ve ever wanted to know… those things, tune in to OWN on May 20th.

Your Announcers and Open Thread for Night 32 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs

New Jersey vs. New York, Game 1, 8:00 p.m. ET

US National TV: NBC Sports Network
Play by Play: Mike Emrick
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

Canada National TV: CBC
Play by Play: Jim Hughson
Color: Craig Simpson
Inside the Glass: Glenn Healy
Reporter: Elliotte Friedman

NBC Has Exclusive Coverage of the Conference Final, Game 7 of LA/Phoenix Would Air on NBCSN

NEW YORK – May 14, 2012 – Day 34 — The NBC Sports Group’s exclusive Conference Finals coverage of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues tonight in New York with the Eastern Conference’s Game 1 between the #1 Rangers and the #6 New Jersey Devils at 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live.

Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-glass’ analyst) will call the action in the Rangers-Devils series. The team of Dave Strader (play-by-play) and Brian Engblom (analyst) and Darren Pang (‘Inside-the-glass’ analyst) will helm the Western Conference games between the Kings-Coyotes. The Kings won last night’s Game 1, 4-2, in Phoenix. The series resumes tomorrow night with Game 2 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

Continuing through the Stanley Cup Final, all remaining Stanley Cup Playoff games will air exclusively on NBC and NBC Sports Network. Following is the schedule for the remaining Conference Finals games (all times ET and subject to change):

Monday, May 14

8 p.m. #6 NJD @ #1 NYR (Game 1) NBC Sports Network

Tuesday, May 15

9 p.m. #8 LA @ #3 PHO (Game 2) NBC Sports Network

Wednesday, May 16

8 p.m. #6 NJD @ #1 NYR (Game 2) NBC Sports Network

Thursday, May 17

9 p.m. #3 PHO@ #8 LA (Game 3) NBC Sports Network

Saturday, May 19

1 p.m. #1 NYR @ #6 NJD (Game 3) NBC

Sunday, May 20

3 p.m. #3 PHO @ #8 LA (Game 4) NBC

Monday, May 21

8 p.m. #1 NYR @ #6 NJD (Game 4) NBC Sports Network

Tuesday, May 22

9 p.m. #8 LA @ #3 PHO (Game 5)* NBC Sports Network

Wednesday, May 23

8 p.m. #6 NJD @ #1 NYR (Game 6)*  NBC Sports Network

Thursday, May 24

9 p.m. #3 PHO @ #8 LA (Game 6)* NBC Sports Network

Friday, May 25

8 p.m. #1 NYR @ #6 NJD (Game 6)* NBC Sports Network

Saturday, May 26

8 p.m. #8 LA @ #3 PHO (Game 7)* NBC Sports Network

Sunday, May 27

8 p.m. #6 NJD @ #1 NYR (Game 7)* NBC Sports Network