NHL Announces US National TV Schedule



The NHL announced the games that’ll be shown on Versus/NBC this year and the list is pretty bizarre. There are some teams with a ton of appearances that make sense. The four way tie for second place between Boston, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Washington sees them with 14 potential appearances each. They’re all major ratings draws due to being in large American hockey markets, having recent success and/or having Crosby and Ovechkin.

In first place is the New York Rangers with 16 potential appearances which makes little to no sense. The Rangers will be mediocre again like they are every year and despite NYC being the largest US media market most people outside of New York hate NYC and the Rangers.

What’s stunning though is this list:

Montreal 6 appearances
Toronto 2 appearances
Vancouver 2 appearances
Winnipeg 1 appearance
Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa no appearances

Sure, I get it, they’re Canadian. But can you really tell me that with the Florida Panthers appearing on a national broadcast (only once) that it wouldn’t be a bigger draw for people to see the Flames or the Oilers? What about Vancouver, the reigning Western Conference champs? What about Toronto, an original six team with plenty of expat fans living south of the border now?

Perhaps the schedulers decided most Canadian ex-pat fans would buy Center Ice anyways, but I have to imagine people still remember Gretzky’s Oilers and would tune in. Wouldn’t casual fans also want to see the BRAND NEW Winnipeg Jets with their new uniforms? Couldn’t Versus play up the Calgary – Tampa rivalry?

Nobody wants to watch the Senators, even in Canada, so at least that makes sense.

Tampa Bay and Buffalo both have 11 national TV appearances as well ahead of teams like Los Angeles and San Jose. If the argument for Buffalo is that there are lots of Sabres fans not living in Buffalo anymore then I’d refer you to the point about Canadian teams above. Tampa Bay? They had a nice season and have Stamkos, but are they really a huge TV draw?

I hope for the sake of league revenue NBC/Versus is right, but it’s certainly not how I’d schedule things.

  • Actually, to be honest with you, I’m surprised there were any games on their skeds involving any of the Canadian teams at all. I don’t have Versus, so I guess they must be the ones occassionally televising games with Canadian teams.

    Otherwise, if you only watched regular-season NHL games on NBC, you could be excused if you thought it was a league consisting of five or six teams, all based in U.S. cities. And you would only think that the players played their amateur hockey at U.S. colleges or Europe (there’s never, ever any mention of Canadian major-junior teams, not even for the U.S-born players who played for them).

    And it’s been like that with NBC for years and years and years. Don’t know if it’s intentional or not but it’s probably doing a league a bit of a disservice.

    • book¡e

      Of course it is intentional. Americans only care about American things and as such, the NHL and the broadcasters do their best to paint hockey as an American sport.

  • I used to live in Houston, Texas and hockey never registered a blip on tv, newspapers or any conversation. It’s funny that it’s us Canadians that care how ice hockey is perceived in the U.S.—not much of the world gives a rats a** about hockey and that doesn’t bother me the least.

  • book¡e

    For a sport like hockey, by far the largest market for a national broadcast is within the region of the home teams. So, adding a Canadian team makes little sense as there is no home market for the broadcasters.

    The size of the home market is a big factor. NYC has a regional population about the size of Canada’s population.

    • D. Pennertration

      This is spot on. To NBC, quality of play is far less important than market size in a sport like the NHL, which has such a small market share compared to the American juggernaut that is the NFL. NFL fans will tune in to games that don’t involve their favorite teams, based solely on the quality of the match. Since this type of fan is rare, and in some places, entirely absent in American NHL cities, NBC’s approach is to garner the loyal following of fans that follow their local teams. The bigger the market, the larger this “casual” fan pool, regardless of the team’s performance. That’s why NYR will always be given the main stage, comparable to the god awful Leafs’ exposure in Canada.

      As for your argument regarding Canadian teams and their lack of exposure on NBC, there’s two reasons for which I can see NBC doing this. First, the Canadian teams don’t require American exposure. With the strengthening of the Canadian dollar and our fan loyalty to the sport, Canadian teams are far more sustainable without network exposure than the failing, insolvent, American teams like FLA. This is then in NBC’s best interest because as American interest in the sport strengthens, so do their ratings. Secondly, they play these underachieving teams against the best teams in the league (correct me if I’m wrong, but FLA’s one game on the schedule is against PIT). Now, not only does the game appeal to Panthers and Penguins fans, but also to casual fans that wish to see elite players, regardless of team, play against their local opponent. Basically, NBC is hoping that the interest in the large market teams spills over into the small market teams. I think.

    • That number will only increase if/when one of our 1st overall picks turns into a superstar and the team is a winner.

      I’m sure that during the garbage years of Pittsburgh and Washington broadcasters didnt want to air their games either.*

      *Just a guess really

  • book¡e

    I think that’s great. That means when I subscribe to NHLGC Live (online streaming), there won’t be any Oil games that are blacked out.

    The NHL blacksout online games when they are shown on NBC, NHLN-US or VS. I guess the NHL doesn’t understand that if one is subscribing to online streaming than they are unlikely to have cable. Makes for crappy playoff watching.

    • book¡e

      Actually, the NHL and the broadcasters understand this very well and the broadcasters require the blackout because they don’t want to be competing with NHLGC Live. They want you to subscribe to their channels.

  • book¡e

    Really, why should we care about what Versus or any other U.S. broadcaster decides to show.
    Anyone upset that North of 60 was never picked up by Fox?
    I understand and agree with most of Gregor’s points, but why get worked up if an american business decides what is best for it’s bottom line. That’s like getting upset if Kenny Rogers Roasters chose to sell just dark meat dishes. Who cares?

  • I am surprised as well that there any canadian teams being shown. I personally lose no (zilch, zero, notta) sleep worrying about how the game is perceived, grown, developed, broadcast etc etc etc. in the U.S. , period. No offense to any americans in the audience.

  • Once again, I will stream Flames games in moderate to high quality and not pay a cent to the jackals that broadcast American television (I live in Denver).

    And you can bet that the only reason any of the Canadian teams are having games televised is because they are playing either the NYR, DET, BOS, PIT, or WSH. Quick look says for the most part, yes. And no Canadian games on NBC.

    As others have said: who cares really? American broadcasting making decisions for American self interest. In Canada, we show a boat load of Canadian games. Same thing – who in Canada wants to see St. Louis, or Florida, or San Jose, etc etc.?

  • book¡e

    You know what F$%K Versus, never watch that stupidass channel anyway. NHL Network and of course the Center Ice Package all day long. Dont think I’ve missed any Oiler or Kings game for the last 6 years!

  • D. Pennertration

    Unfortunately, it’s silly to be surprised that there isn’t any Canadian coverage to speak of. You would think they would show more Vanc. since they are one of the best teams in the league. Other than that I think it’s safe to say that existing hockey fans in the US likely follow their home/regional team and the die hards will get their fix thru specialty channels. The casual US fan barely gives a lick about hockey and less so if it involves a Canadian team. My guess is the the Raptors and the Jays aren’t exactly big tv draws down south

  • Who the hell cares? Does anyone really give a damn about the American TV schedule, particularly regarding the appearance of Canadian teams. I’m also not convinced that everyone outside of NY hates the Rangers.

    This article is bad and you should feel bad.

  • Everybody is correct, we shouldn’t be surprised or be frustrated. Another important factor is US TV primetime is 7 – 10 pm in the Eastern Time Zones, either Standard or Daylight Saving.

    The California teams are located three hours away from the start of EST/EDT primetime. As is Vancouver. Calgary and Edmonton, two hours. Probably the majority of hockey fans in North America reside in the EST or EDT zones. And many US teams play at matinee times on weekends, which skews TV broadcast scheduling.

    TV network audiences obviously count to advertisers as the NHL is all about money. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, either.

    • Chemmy lives in the States folks. Apparently, he cares. What’s more, a number of people managed to discuss the article intelligently.

      Here’s tip to the various whiners: if a topic doesn’t interest you, feel free not to read it. Or comment on it. You clutter the discussion with your petulance otherwise.

      • I guess a Canadian team is going to have to hoist the cup some time this century for Canada to become a television draw south of the border.

        Edit. I have no idea why I replied to Kent “The Hammer” Wilson… but…since we are talking, Kent. How are things? Keeping busy?

      • Forgive my petulance Kent, but if we had been given this bit of context in the first place the article would have made way more sense. If only in the form of a bio stating as much. Instead we get “Like many people, Chemmy was born”.

        Maybe we’re spoiled here at ON, but even Wanye writes some cracking stuff. Add in Brownlee, Gregor, Lowetide (who are local) and Willis and the quality is pretty darn high.

        If we’re going to have a guest/fan post a la Copper n’ Blue, it might go a whole lot easier on the contributor if he or she was introduced.

        Speaking of which, is this a fan post or a contributor from one of the other sites?

        • Devon

          Chemmy writes for the Leafs I believeexplains the jab at the Senators in the article as well. Also probably the reason everyone is wondering who he is as the comment second over in leaf’s ville has about at the most 2 maybe 3 comments unless it’s posted on all the Nation websites.

  • OilFan

    Not everyone outside of NY hates the Rangers. I still have fond memories of the 1994 Edmonton Rangers and their Stanley Cup run. It’s left me a soft spot for the club.

  • Devon

    Ya, you are right. I shouldn’t have piled on. But his points aren’t good or even valid.

    1. Buffalo is one the highest rated DMAs for NHL. Buffalo games deserve to be broadcast in the USA.

    2. Surprisingly Tampa-St. Pete’s is a decent TV audience for NBC broadcasts. I don’t understand it, but it is. I am talking non-TB games. Throw in the star power in TB and I think they should have a reasonable amount of national US games assigned.

    3. LA and west coast teams. I agree with Chemmy. More love should be given to these teams.

    4. Edm and Calgary have the fewest # of games on TSN and CBC. I guess that reflects their drawing power nationally (unfortunately) here. The fact that they are at the bottom for games televised nationally in the USA does make some sense. There is a Calgary-Tampa rivalry that anyone outside of those 2 cities even knows about. That is like saying people care about the Edmonton-Dallas rivalry outside of Edm-Dallas.

    5. NYR are a draw even if they are hated (and loved).

    6. There is no excuse for Vancouver – Boston rematch being televised on VERSUS. None. I get them ignoring Vancouver since they are west coast (they ignore their own west coast) and Canadian, but the rematch should be on. It is on NHLNETWORK USA which is a plus I guess.

    Fine. There I was reasonable and argued the points.

  • Chemmy, aka @felixpotvin, is a Leaf fan/blogger from the New England area who recently relocated to San Jose. He is super famous, as he has been mentioned on HNIC’s iDesk. Hopefully this helps explain his hatred of the Ottawa Senators, the city of New York, and now, the lack of westcoast games on NBC/NBC SportsNet.