You wanted more hockey on TV, America?
You're going to get it. The NHL, along with national TV partners NBC, Versus, TSN, RDS and CBC, unveiled their national television broadcast schedule on Wednesday afternoon. In total, Versus will broadcast 78 regular season games this season, which is 13 more than a year ago.
The season opens on October 7 with five games, three of which will be broadcast back-to-back-to-back on Versus. NBC debuts its NHL coverage on January 1 with the Winter Classic between the Penguins and Capitals (Ovi vs Sid wooooo!) and they'll continue with their "Game of the Week" on Sunday afternoons.
Versus will close out the season with a game on each night of the week, Monday through Friday.
Canada gets more hockey than they can possibly handle, as usual. TSN and TSN2 have 124 games this season, and no, that's not a typo. CBC and Hockey Night In Canada have a total of 87 games.
Some more highlights:
- Versus will broadcast 53 exclusive games and 25 "bonus" games.
- Regional coverage on NBC again, huh? On Hockey Day In America, Sunday, February 20, NBC will in fact have regional coverage. That schedule will come later.
- Versus has the coverage of the All-Star Game in Raleigh and the Heritage Classic between Calgary and Montreal on February 20.
- RDS will broadcast every single Montreal Canadiens game.
- NHL Network in the United States will televise 75 games, a high-water mark for them. In Canada, the Network has 31 live games.
- As usual, NBC's schedule isn't all that diverse. It's not set in stone yet because of their flex scheduling, but 12 teams don't even have the chance to have that national network spotlight. Some of the flex options are clearly a joke -- does anybody think they're picking FLA-NJ over PHI-CHI on January 23 -- so really, that number is a lot higher. Only a few teams will see the NBC spotlight this season, as usual.
On the whole, though, the NHL and its American broadcast partners have clearly stepped up. As Steve Lepore pointed on Twitter, Versus is in a contract year when it comes to their contract with the league. They're intentions here are clear -- they want and need hockey for their future.
All in all, that's very good for the future of the league and the strength of the NHL product.