Small Stuff: NBC Sports Network up, Picabo Street to Fox, Aaron Boone to Yankees/Indians

Al Bello

News on NBCSN, Picabo Street, Aaron Boone, the NCAA women's hoops title, the Frozen Four and more.

This is a new weekly segment called Small Stuff. Every week, about 50 stories happen in sports media that I either don't have time for or don't deserve their own post. Doesn't mean they're not important. That stuff will go here, and it'll show up every Monday.

*The NBC Sports Network had a solid first quarter of 2013. Despite a completely different NHL schedule and three weeks at the start of January that were almost completely free of desirable programming, the network is up 14 percent in viewership. That's thanks to the NHL being up 34 percent from the first quarter of 2012. It's not just hockey, however, as the net's first IndyCar race was up 78 percent from last year, MLS is up eight percent, and The Dan Patrick Show, which has improved NBCSN's morning average by 58 percent over 2012. One of the big keys? Wednesday Night Rivalry, the featured hockey night of the week, which has improved the network in primetime on that night by 55 percent.

*Aaron Boone will be a part of ESPN's first attempt at tailoring Wednesday Night Baseball broadcasts to the specific teams playing. Boone will be in the booth with Jon Sciambi and Mark Mulder for the Worldwide Leader's Wednesday telecast of Yankees/Indians at 7 p.m. ET, both teams that Boone played for during his career.

*Welcome to a world where the Washington Nationals are a big-time MLB TV team. The Nats game against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday will be featured in 47 percent of the nation on Fox. The network will also feature San Francisco vs. the Cubs (30 percent) and Tampa Bay-Boston (22 percent), but I believe this is only the second or third time Washington has had the most distributed game. Fox's coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. ET with a 1 p.m. ET first pitch.

*Fox Sports 1 has made one of its first analyst hires, and it might surprise you a bit. FS1 has added Picabo Street to their team, as the former gold medalist in downhill skiing will provide daily commentary on the sport during the 2014 Sochi Olympics for Fox Sports 1, among other Fox properties.

*Fox wasn't done making announcements on Monday, as the network and Golden Boy Promotions announced a multi-year agreement to bring boxing to Fox Sports 1. The network will air approximately 24 boxing events per year, while Fox's Spanish-language network, Fox Deportes, will air 48. The network already has a huge stable of UFC events, but a move to bring the more traditional boxing to the net makes sense.

*The NHL announced that its Winter Classic will return in 2014, and so will the main thing most people who care about the event find important: the HBO series 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic. Sure, the Maple Leafs and Red Wings are probably a little duller (cough... Brian Burke) than they would've been had you done this show last December, but the series is always a welcome look inside the hockey world. Incidentally, Sportsnet and CityTV have won the all-important rights to the show in Canada. A look inside the Leafs locker room? That may draw Super Bowl-type ratings up North.

*ESPNU will devote seven hours of coverage today to the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. ESPNU shows like Crunch Time and The Experts will be devoted to Louisville-Connecticut, as well as a one-hour, all women's edition of College Basketball Live. ESPN will then take over with a pre-game show at 7:30 p.m. ET and the National Final at 8:30 p.m. ET. Dave O'Brien (who has himself a busy two nights in a row) will call the game with Doris Burke, Rebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe.

*The NCAA Hockey Championship is a bit of a Who's Who of "Who?" this year: the entire Frozen Four features teams that have never won a national title. ESPN, however, will give hockey its two days a year in the sun, as they'll air the national semifinals at 4:30 (Yale/UMass-Lowell) and 8 p.m. ET (St. Cloud State vs. top-seeded Quinnipiac) on ESPN2 this Thursday. The Championship Game will be on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. John Buccigross (play-by-play), Barry Melrose (color) and Clay Matvick (reporter) have the call.

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