The NBC Sports Group today announced its plans for the 2011-12 NHL season, the first under the new 10-year partnership, by offering hockey fans more coverage than ever. The schedule is highlighted by 100 regular-season games across NBC and VERSUS, which will be re-branded the NBC Sports Network midway through the season on January 2; expanded exclusive cable coverage, including Wednesday and Sunday nights, and live 30-minute pre- and post-game shows for every game on VERSUS; the return of Hockey Day in America on NBC and NHL All-Star Weekend on VERSUS; the introduction of a Thanksgiving Friday NBC broadcast; and national distribution of all Stanley Cup Playoff games.
As a result of the historic 10-year television and media rights agreement between the NHL and the NBC Sports Group which takes the partnership through the 2020-21 season, there will be major additions to both NBC’s and VERSUS’ schedules during the 2011-2012 season that will benefit hockey fans, including:
A new tradition will begin this year when NBC commences its broadcast coverage on Friday, November 25, at 1 p.m. ET, the day after Thanksgiving, with an original-six match-up featuring the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins against the 2008 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings.
Exclusive cable coverage on VERSUS on Wednesday nights, added games on Sunday nights, including many exclusive nights, to provide VERSUS with 90 nights of exclusive NHL coverage (up from 54 last season).
A new live pre- and post-game show, NHL Live, before and after every telecast on VERSUS with up-to-the-minute information and expert analysis.
NBC and NBC Sports Network will televise 10 games in the final seven days of the regular season leading into the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, including a triple-header on Saturday, April 7.
For the first time ever, all Stanley Cup Playoff games will be televised nationally on an NBCU platform and exclusive coverage of the postseason begins with the Conference Semifinals.
NHL FACEOFF(TM) – The season faces-off on VERSUS with seven games in the first seven days starting with a double-header on Thursday, October 6, when the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins host the Philadelphia Flyers at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the 2011 Western Conference Champion Vancouver Canucks hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at 10 p.m. ET. The action continues with NHL Premiere(TM) Games, two overseas telecasts live from Stockholm, Sweden, on Friday, October 7, as the New York Rangers take on the Los Angeles Kings at 1 p.m. ET and on Saturday, October 8, when the Rangers battle the Anaheim Ducks at 1 p.m. ET. VERSUS’ exclusive coverage continues with games on Monday, Tuesday and, new this year, a nationally exclusive ‘Game of the Week’ on Wednesday night, beginning the week of October 10.
REGULAR SEASON –
THANKSGIVING: NBC commences its broadcast coverage earlier than ever with a special original-six match-up on Friday, November 25, at 1 p.m. ET, the day after Thanksgiving. The Stanley Cup Champion Bruins will host the 2008 Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings live from the TD Bank Garden in Boston.
NBC’S “GAME OF THE WEEK”: NBC will continue its national “Game of the Week” coverage on Sundays, debuting on January 14 with an inter-division battle between rivals Chicago and Detroit from Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. For the fifth straight season, the NHL and NBC Sports will utilize “flex” scheduling to choose the game that will air in the “Game of the Week” window. Beginning on Sunday March 4, one of the flex games not chosen to air on NBC will be chosen to air nationally on NBC Sports Network on Sunday night.
HOCKEY DAY IN AMERICA: “Hockey Day in America,” launched last season to celebrate America’s passion for hockey, is scheduled for Sunday, February 19, this season and will once again feature six hours of coverage and eight teams from some of the most avid U.S. hockey markets. The coverage will start at noon ET with three regional games with staggered starts (Pittsburgh at Buffalo, San Jose at Detroit, St. Louis at Chicago) followed by a national broadcast of Boston at Minnesota at 3 p.m. ET.
MORE EXCLUSIVE NIGHTS: VERSUS will introduce several enhancements to its schedule this year, including two new nights of nationally exclusive games, a live pre- and post-game show before/after every telecast called NHL Live, and the return of NHL Overtime. In addition to televising games on Monday and Tuesday nights, as VERSUS has done for the past six years, the network will now add a nationally exclusive ‘Game of the Week’ telecast on Wednesday night and, starting in January, additional Sunday night games, including many exclusive nights. For the first time, “flex” scheduling (beginning March 4) will be utilized to choose the game that will air in the Sunday night window.
ALL-STAR WEEKEND: VERSUS, which will be re-branded NBC Sports Network on January 2, will continue to televise NHL All-Star weekend, which includes the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft, NHL Skills Competition and the NHL All-Star Game the weekend of January 27, 2012. Last year’s All-Star Game, which benefited from receiving cross-channel NBCU promotion, was the most-watched NHL All-Star Game in VERSUS history.
PRODUCTION – The NBC Sports Group will continue to showcase NHL games with best-in-class production enhancements for its hockey coverage and will produce all NHL games airing on NBC and VERSUS, allowing for more interactivity between the NBC and VERSUS NHL telecasts. Following the formation of the NBC Sports Group in January, VERSUS adopted numerous NBC Sports’ production and programming elements for the network’s NHL telecasts, such as the “Inside the Glass” philosophy.
RATINGS – The NBC Sports Group will enter the season with viewership momentum across both NBC and VERSUS. Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver was watched by 8.54 million people, making it the most-watched NHL game in 38 years. This milestone came after last season’s NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic on NBC was the most-watched regular-season game in the U.S in 36 years. After garnering the cable network’s most-watched regular season in history, VERSUS capped off the season by recording the most watched Stanley Cup Playoffs on cable since 2002.
VERSUS RE-BRAND – As part of a new strategy to bring all four tiers of its assets (broadcast network, two national cable networks, 11 regional sports networks and digital) into a consistent framework of branding, VERSUS will be re-named the NBC Sports Network. In addition, the NBC Sports Group will implement a redesigned NBC Sports logo. Both changes take effect January 2, 2012.
NBC 2011-12 NHL regular-season schedule (all times ET, subject to change):
DATE GAME TIME
Fri., Nov. 25 Detroit at Boston 1 p.m.
Sun. Jan. 2 New York Rangers @ Philadelphia 1 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 14 Chicago at Detroit 12:30 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 22 Was at Pit or Bos @ Phi 12:30 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 12 TBD 12:30 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 19 Pit @ Buff / SJ @ Det / STL @ Chi 12 p.m.
Boston at Minnesota 3 p.m.
Sun., March 4 Bos @ NYR or Phi @ Wash 12:30 p.m.
Sun., March 11 LA @ Chi or Bos @ Pit 12:30 p.m.
Sun., March 18 Pit @ Phi or Was @ Chi 12:30 p.m.
Sun., April 1 Bos @ NYR or Phi @ Pit 12:30 p.m.
Sat., April 7 Was @ NYR or Phi @ Pit or Chi @ Det or Buf @ Bos TBD
VERSUS 2011-12 NHL regular-season schedule (all times ET, subject to change):
DATE GAME TIME (ET)
Thurs., Oct. 6 Philadelphia at Boston 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Vancouver 10 p.m.
Fri., October 7 New York Rangers/Los Angeles* 1 p.m.
Sat., October 8 New York Rangers/Anaheim* 1 p.m.
Mon., October 10 Tampa Bay at Washington 7 p.m.
Tues., October 11 Florida at Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Wed., October 12 Boston at Carolina 7:30 p.m.
Mon., October 17 Colorado at Toronto 7 p.m.
Tues., October 18 Pittsburgh at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.
Tues., October 25 Tampa Bay at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Mon., October 31 San Jose at New York Rangers 7 p.m.
Tues., November 1 Anaheim at Washington 7:30 p.m.
Wed., November 2 Philadelphia at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Mon., November 7 New York Islanders at Boston 7 p.m.
Tues., November 8 Carolina at New Jersey 7:30 p.m.
Wed., November 9 Philadelphia at Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Mon., November 14 Buffalo at Montreal 7 p.m.
Tues., November 15 Colorado at Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Wed., November 16 New Jersey at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Mon., November 21 Boston at Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Tues., November 22 Los Angeles at St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Mon., November 28 Tampa Bay at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.
Tues., November 29 Pittsburgh at New York Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Wed., November 30 Tampa Bay at Detroit 7:30 p.m.
Mon., December 5 Phoenix at Chicago 8 p.m.
Tues., December 6 Detroit at St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Wed., December 7 Philadelphia at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Mon., December 12 New Jersey at Tampa Bay 7 p.m.
Tues., December 13 San Jose at Colorado 9 p.m.
Wed., December 14 Chicago at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.
Mon., December 19 Anaheim at Dallas 8 p.m.
Tues., December 20 Chicago at Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Wed., December 21 Philadelphia at Dallas 7:30 p.m.
Mon., December 26 Dallas at St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Tues., December 27 St. Louis at Detroit 7:30 p.m.
Wed., December 28 New York Rangers at Washington 7:30 p.m.
Mon., January 2 San Jose at Vancouver 8 p.m.
Tues., January 3 Detroit at Dallas 8 p.m.
Wed., January 4 Boston at New Jersey 7:30 p.m.
Sun., January 8 Detroit at Chicago 7:30 p.m.
Tues., January 10 San Jose at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.
Wed., January 11 Pittsburgh at Washington 7:30 p.m.
Sun., January 15 New York Rangers at Montreal 7 p.m.
Mon., January 16 Dallas at St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Tues., January 17 Nashville at New York Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Wed., January 18 Buffalo at Chicago 7:30 p.m.
Mon., January 23 St. Louis at Detroit** 7:30 p.m.
Tues., January 24 Minnesota at Colorado 9 p.m.
Wed., January 25 Detroit at Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Fri., January 27 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft TBD
Sat., January 28 NHL Skills Competition TBD
Sun., January 29 NHL All-Star Game TBD
Tues., January 31 Washington at Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Wed., February 1 New York Rangers at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Sun., February 5 Boston at Washington 12:30 p.m.
Mon., February 6 Detroit at Phoenix 8 p.m.
Tues., February 7 Los Angeles at Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Wed., February 8 Boston at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Sun., February 12 Philadelphia at Detroit 7:30 p.m.
Mon., February 13 San Jose at Washington 7:30 p.m.
Tues., February 14 Anaheim at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.
Wed., February 15 Boston at Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Sun., February 19 New Jersey at Montreal 6 p.m.
Mon., February 20 Washington at Carolina 7:30 p.m.
Tues., February 21 Detroit at Chicago 8 p.m.
Wed., February 22 Los Angeles at Colorado 9 p.m.
Sun., February 26 Chicago at Anaheim 7 p.m.
Mon., February 27 New Jersey at New York Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Tues., February 28 Los Angeles at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.
Wed., February 29 Pittsburgh at Dallas 7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 4 Bos @ NYR or Phi @ Wash 7 p.m.
Mon., March 5 Buffalo at Winnipeg 8 p.m.
Tues., March 6 Minnesota at Colorado 9 p.m.
Wed., March 7 Toronto at Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 11 LA @ Chi or Bos @ Pit 7:30 p.m.
Mon., March 12 Anaheim at Colorado 9 p.m.
Tues., March 13 Carolina at New York Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Wed., March 14 Colorado at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 18 Pit @ Phi or Was @ Chi 7 p.m.
Mon., March 19 New Jersey at New York Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Tues., March 20 Phoenix at Dallas 8 p.m.
Wed., March 21 Detroit at New York Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 25 Minnesota at Washington 5 p.m.
Nashville at Chicago 7:30 p.m.
Mon., March 26 Tampa Bay at Philadelphia 7:30 p.m.
Tues., March 27 Tampa Bay at Boston 7:30 p.m.
Wed., March 28 Detroit at Columbus 7:30 p.m.
Sun., April 1 Bos @ NYR or Phi @ Pit 7:30 p.m.
Mon., April 2 Washington at Tampa Bay 7 p.m.
Tues., April 3 Pittsburgh at Boston 7:30 p.m.
Wed., April 4 Detroit at St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Thurs., April 5 Columbus at Colorado 9 p.m.
Fri., April 6 Phoenix at St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Sat., April 7 (Two Games, TBD) TBD
* NHL Premiere(TM) Games in Europe