NHL.com: NBC bringing unprecedented exposure to playoffs

Monday, 04.9.2012 / 5:39 PM CT / Nashville Predators Playoffs Coverage
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NHL.com: NBC bringing unprecedented exposure to playoffs

NEW YORK -- For the first time in the history of the NHL, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be broadcast in their entirety nationally.

That was the overarching message Monday from League Commissioner Gary Bettman and NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus in a roundtable discussion with gathered media at the NHL offices that featured NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, NHL CEO John Collins and NBC Sports Group's Sam Flood, Seth Winter, John Miller and Jon Miller.

In the past, it was impossible to show four, or sometimes five, first-round games if they were taking place on the same night, but that's no longer the case.

All the postseason action will air on either NBC, NBCSN, CNBC or the NHL Network.



"In terms of bringing our games, the quality of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which we think is unrivaled in sports, particularly when you look at the craziness of the first round and the excitement of the first round, they're going to do it all," Bettman said. "This has been the partnership we had hoped for, envisioned, and we couldn't be more thrilled about how they work with us. They have great people who spend their waking hours worrying about us and our game, and we couldn't be more grateful to them.

"If you go back in our history, having this level of exposure, giving hockey fans everywhere in the United States an opportunity to see what's going on, especially and including outside of their markets, is unprecedented for us."

The breakdown of coverage through the opening round's first five games of each series is as follows:

* 6 games on NBC

* 20 games on NBCSN

* 10 games on CNBC

* 5 games on the NHLN

How the remaining games will be dispersed throughout the networks when series go beyond five games hasn't been determined, but they will air nationally. Lazarus said when the NHL and NBC entered into their 10-year partnership that began last year, making sure every postseason game aired nationally was the top priority.

"The amount of exposure we've been able to bring with all teams to the national stage, that's an important part of our relationship," Lazarus said. "We are not just certain teams' broadcast partner -- we are all teams' broadcast partner, whether they are near or far, here or in Canada."

The playoffs get started Wednesday night with a doubleheader on NBCSN with the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins meeting at 7:30 p.m. ET followed by the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks at 10:30 p.m. At 8 p.m., the Detroit Red Wings will face the Nashville Predators on CNBC.

To accommodate the busier nights, NBC Sports Group has built a second set at its Stamford, Conn., studio to give fans a better intermission and postgame report. NHL Live will start the coverage at 6:30 p.m. ET on all game nights.

It's part of a plan to not only serve viewers during the first round, but get them prepared for the second round, too, which will be broadcast exclusively over NBC and NHLN in the United States.

"The wonderful thing about this playoff system is there's so much rivalry, and some of that rivalry is, 'Who are we going to play next?' " Lazarus said. "Our ability to continue to promote that next round to all of the viewers of any given series, we think will have a cumulative effect of heightening the excitement as we move through the playoffs."

Lazarus was happy with the regular-season ratings garnered by NHL broadcasts, and expects to see the numbers improve during the postseason.

"When April Nielsen numbers come out, we'll have 3 million more homes to show from where we were a year ago," Lazarus said. "Now we're getting to the really exciting part. We're getting to the playoffs, where we will show every game on all the platforms. We think that will help with that bring a level of excitement to the series. There will be no gaps for fans trying to guess or pick up the series mid-stream.

"We think that the number of people who will have seen NHL hockey this year will be the most ever throughout a season. We're very comfortable and confident once we get through the Stanley Cup Final, we will have been able to shake hands after one year after our new relationship and say, 'Boy that was great, and the best is yet to come.'"

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

Author: Dave Lozo | NHL.com Staff Writer





1 CHI 56 36 16 4 158 128 76
2 DAL 53 33 15 5 170 142 71
3 STL 55 30 17 8 132 129 68
4 LAK 51 31 17 3 135 117 65
5 SJS 51 27 20 4 147 138 58
6 NSH 53 25 20 8 136 139 58
7 COL 55 27 24 4 148 152 58
8 ANA 50 25 18 7 111 115 57
9 MIN 52 23 20 9 127 126 55
10 ARI 52 24 22 6 138 161 54
11 VAN 52 20 20 12 120 142 52
12 CGY 51 23 25 3 134 148 49
13 WPG 52 23 26 3 136 150 49
14 EDM 54 21 28 5 132 164 47


R. Josi 53 10 27 -2 37
S. Weber 53 14 21 -4 35
F. Forsberg 53 15 18 -6 33
M. Ribeiro 53 6 27 3 33
J. Neal 53 19 13 18 32
M. Ekholm 53 6 16 3 22
R. Ellis 52 6 15 2 21
C. Smith 53 11 6 -1 17
C. Jarnkrok 52 9 7 0 16
C. Wilson 36 4 12 0 16
P. Rinne 20 17 7 .904 2.50
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36