Coverage Begins Tonight on VERSUS with Exclusive Telecast of Game 1 Between Nashville and Vancouver at 9 p.m. ET; NBC Coverage Begins Saturday with Opening Game of Boston – Philadelphia Series at 3 p.m. ET
“Two teams that have overcome their demons and have a taste of success have become more dangerous than ever.” – Brian Engblom on Vancouver-Nashville Series
NEW YORK (April 28, 2011)– The NBC Sports Group continues its wall-to-wall coverage of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs with seven Conference Semifinal games over the next four days on NBC and VERSUS. The hockey action begins tonight on VERSUS with an exclusive telecast of Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinal series between the Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks at 9 p.m. ET. Semifinal coverage continues on VERSUS tomorrow night with a double-header featuring Game 1 of the Tampa Bay-Washington series at 7 p.m. ET, the network’s first exclusive game of the playoffs, followed by Game 1 of the Detroit-San Jose series at 10 p.m. ET. Additionally, NBC and VERSUS will air four exclusive games over the weekend, including Game 1 of Boston-Philadelphia this Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.
During the Conference Semifinal round, VERSUS will air at least two exclusive games per series in addition to non-exclusive games. The non-exclusive telecasts will be subject to local blackouts, but can be found on their local regional networks, including Comcast SportsNet California, Mid-Atlantic and Philadelphia which will televise all of their teams’ games in the Semifinal round, except for games chosen to air exclusively on VERSUS or NBC. NBC will air two exclusive games per weekend throughout the Semifinals. VERSUS will share exclusive coverage with NBC of both Conference Finals series. Coverage will culminate with exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup Final in primetime in June with NBC broadcasting Games 1-2 and 5-7 (if necessary), and VERSUS presenting exclusive coverage of Games 3 and 4.
NBC SPORTS: Coverage starts this Saturday with Eastern Conference action between the Bruins and the Flyers in Game 1 of their series at 3 p.m. ET. On Sunday, NBC Sports presents Game 2 of the Western Conference series between the Detroit Red Wings and the San Jose Sharks at 3 p.m. ET.
Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play) and Eddie Olczyk (analyst) anchor NBC Sports’ coverage on Saturday with Pierre McGuire serving as inside-the-glass analyst. NBC’s studio show will feature host Liam McHugh and analyst Mike Milbury. Sunday’s coverage will be helmed by Dave Strader (play-by-play) with Joe Micheletti (analyst) and Darren Pang calling the action from inside-the-glass. McHugh and Milbury will be joined by McGuire in the studio for Sunday’s telecast.
VERSUS: Playoff coverage begins tonight with exclusive coverage of Game 1 of the Nashville Predators-Vancouver Canucks series. VERSUS’ Friday night telecast includes a double-header with exclusive coverage of Game 1 of the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Washington Capitals at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the San Jose Sharks hosting the Detroit Red Wings at 10 p.m. ET.
VERSUS closes out the week with two exclusive games over the weekend beginning with Game 2 of the Nashville-Vancouver series on Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET and Game 2 between Tampa Bay-Washington on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET. (See below for complete Semifinal schedule).
DIGITAL: NBCSports.com and VERSUS.com have combined forces to create a single, robust destination for hockey fans during the NHL Playoffs. The NBC Sports Group consolidated NHL content from both the NBCSports.com and VERSUS.com’s hockey sections onto the rapidly-growing NBCSports.com site. One of the key content areas is ProHockeyTalk, one of NBCSports.com‘s popular “Sports Talk” platforms that also include ProFootballTalk, CollegeFootballTalk, HardBallTalk, ProBasketballTalk and ProGolfTalk.
During the playoffs on NBCSports.com, fans can follow all the NHL Playoffs action with live streaming of NBC games, NHL videos, cross-platform promotions, social media and more. Some of the features on NBCSports.com include:
- Online-only videos featuring VERSUS and NBC Sports hockey commentators previewing upcoming playoff games and wrapping-up all of the NHL action that day.
- “Star-Cam,” which follows marquee players in NBC games, and “Net-Cam,” which provides a unique perspective from behind the goalie.
- ProHockeyTalk, which recently had its most-trafficked month ever, will update NHL Playoff news around the clock.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Fans can also keep up with the NHL playoffs through a variety of NBC Sports and VERSUS social media platforms throughout the postseason. Content will include:
- Behind the Scenes: Through the joint “NHL on NBC and VERSUS” Facebook page and @NHLonNBC_VS on Twitter, fans receive exclusive behind-the-scenes photos, interviews and video.
- Commentator Tweets: Various NBC and VERSUS commentators will provide Twitter content throughout the playoffs, including occasional in-game Tweets.
- Fan Questions: Fans will have the opportunity to ask questions to NBC and VERSUS commentators via Facebook and Twitter.
- Team Tabs: Fans who “Like” the joint NBC and VERSUS Facebook page will have the opportunity to play a variety of games and upload fan photos based around each of their favorite teams who made the playoffs. As teams advance in the playoffs, new and more difficult games will challenge fans.
- News: Fans can follow NBC and VERSUS Facebook and Twitter accounts to receive the most up to date scores, reports and stories from around the NHL and ProHockeyTalk.
HOCKEY CENTRAL: Each night the network televises a playoff game VERSUS will kick off the broadcast with a Hockey Central pregame show. Hosted by either Bill Patrick or Liam McHugh with Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick, Hockey Central will preview the night’s action around the Stanley Cup Playoffs. To wrap up each night, the Hockey Central postgame show will have the latest highlights, news, analysis, and player interviews. Throughout the playoffs, Hockey Central will continue to feature guest analysts including, Mike Keenan and Mike Milbury.
COMPREHENSIVE LOCAL COVERAGE: Comcast SportsNet, the local home for the Capitals, Flyers and Sharks, will closely follow hometown team playoff progress with pre- and postgame coverage, breaking news and analysis throughout each team’s playoff run.
NBC SPORTS SEMIFINAL SCHEDULE (all times ET)
Saturday, April 30
3 p.m. Boston at Philadelphia, Game 1*
Sunday, May 1
3 p.m. Detroit at San Jose, Game 2*
Saturday, May 7
12:30 p.m. **Tampa Bay at Washington, Game 5*
Sunday, May 8
3 p.m. **Boston at Philadelphia, Game 5*
VERSUS SEMIFINAL SCHEDULE (all times ET)
Thursday, April 28
9 p.m. Nashville at Vancouver, Game 1*
Friday, April 29
7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Washington, Game 1*
10 p.m. Detroit at San Jose, Game 1
Saturday, April 30
9 p.m. Nashville at Vancouver, Game 2*
Sunday, May 1
7 p.m. Tampa Bay at Washington, Game 2*
Monday, May 2
7:30 p.m. Boston at Philadelphia, Game 2*
Tuesday, May 3
7:30 p.m. TBD
Wednesday, May 4
7 p.m. Philadelphia at Boston, Game 3*
9:30 p.m. (JIP) San Jose at Detroit, Game 3
Thursday, May 5
8:30 p.m. Vancouver at Nashville, Game 4
Friday, May 6
7 p.m. San Jose at Detroit, Game 4*
9:30 p.m. (JIP) Philadelphia at Boston, Game 4
Saturday, May 7
8 p.m. **Nashville at Vancouver, Game 5*
Sunday, May 8
8 p.m. **Detroit at San Jose, Game 5*
Monday, May 9
Tuesday, May 10
Wednesday, May 11
Thursday, May 12
*Exclusive Games, **If necessary, (JIP) – joined in progress
VERSUS’ Quarterfinal Coverage is Best on Cable in 17 Years
NBC Scores Best First Round on Network TV in Seven Years
SportsNets Generate 22 Percent Collective Increase Vs. Last Year with Chicago, Mid-Atlantic & Philadelphia Notching Viewership Records
NEW YORK – April 28, 2011 – The NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the Conference Quarterfinal round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs netted viewership milestones across its national and regional platforms. VERSUS’ cable coverage and NBC’s network coverage of the first round were the most-watched in 17 and seven years, respectively. The four Comcast SportsNets who televise their local NHL teams collectively generated a 22 percent increase vs. last year with Chicago, Mid-Atlantic and Philadelphia posting viewership records.
- Coverage of the Conference Quarterfinals, which averaged 624,000 viewers, was the most-watched ever on VERSUS, up eight percent from last year’s first round (595,000) and the most-watched on cable in 17 years. It was also the most-watched Quarterfinals for key male demos in eight years, including the best among Men 18-49 in a decade (2001).
- Game 6 of the Vancouver-Chicago series (1.16 million viewers) was the most-watched complete Conference Quarterfinal game ever on VERSUS among average viewers, Men 18-49 and Men 25-54; surpassing last year’s Mon-Was Game 7 (4/28/10) with 1.15 million viewers.
- It was also the most-watched NHL Quarterfinal game on cable in eight years (Col-Min, Game 7 on ESPN, 1.24 million viewers, 4/22/03).
- Last night’s joined-in-progress Game 7 between Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh averaged 1.5 million viewers for the third period.
- NBC’s Conference Quarterfinal coverage was the most-watched network coverage for the NHL’s first round in seven years.
- NBC’s four games over two weekends averaged 1.9 million viewers, the most since ABC aired two total games averaging 2.0 million viewers in 2004 and up 12 percent from last year’s coverage (1.7 million).
- The Philadelphia Flyers’ Game 6 win over the Buffalo Sabres in overtime on NBC this past Sunday was watched by 2.57 million viewers, making it the most-watched NHL non-Conference Final game in 12 years.
- The viewership for the second weekend of games was also the best in seven years. The two games this past Saturday and Sunday averaged 2.1 million viewers, the most since one game in 2004 on ABC (2.2 million) and up 24 percent from last year (1.7 million).
Comcast Sports Group’s regional networks are home to four NHL franchises: the Blackhawks (Comcast SportsNet Chicago), Capitals (Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic), Flyers (Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia) and Sharks (Comcast SportsNet California). All four teams competed in the first round of the playoffs. Highlights include:
- During the first round, Comcast Sports Group’s aggregate average NHL playoff audience was 800,987 households, up 22% from last season.
- The three highest-rated Blackhawks games in Comcast SportsNet Chicago history, peaking with game seven, which rated a 13.33 locally (467,000 households), peaking at 18.35 (643,000 households).
- The Capitals first-round series against the Rangers became the highest-rated Capitals playoff series in Comcast SportsNet history, averaging 5.72 in the DC DMA (and a 2.57 Baltimore DMA average) for a combined average local audience of 165,000 households. The series also included the second-highest rated Caps game in Comcast SportsNet history.
- The highest-rated Flyers game in Comcast SportsNet history (Game 7), delivered a 12.6 average rating (383,000 households) and peaked at 14.7 (446,000 households).
The NBC Sports Group’s first-round playoff viewership increases continue the momentum generated during the NHL’s 2010-11 regular season.
- NBC’s regular-season coverage of 11 games was up four percent vs. 2010’s coverage of 10 games (1.62 million viewers vs. 1.56 million). It was highlighted by the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic — broadcast on New Year’s Day in primetime due to a weather delay — which became the most-watched Winter Classic ever with 4.5 million viewers, was up 22 percent vs. last year’s game and was the most-watched NHL regular-season game in 36 years.
- VERSUS’ 2010-11 regular-season viewership was the network’s best ever (353,000 average viewers) and up 18 percent over last season. Average viewership for exclusive NHL telecasts increased 41 percent (425,000 average viewers vs. 302,000) since VERSUS became a member of the NBC Sports Group in late January when the transaction between Comcast and NBCUniversal was complete.
- Comcast SportsNet’s four NHL teams delivered average ratings growth of 1.5% over the previous season. Highlights include:
- Comcast SportsNet posted the highest Blackhawks final regular-season TV ratings average in Comcast SportsNet history — a 2.78 final household season average (approx. 97,372 households watching per game) — a 14% increase over last season’s 2.44 final average — a 121% increase from the final season average two years ago (1.26) — and a 341% increase from three years ago (0.63).
- Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic’s regular-season coverage of the Capitals set another all-time ratings mark for the network, besting last season’s average WSH DMA household rating – the previous high – by more than 12%.
- Flyers games averaged a 2.4 rating on Comcast SportsNet during the 2010-11 season, a nine percent increase over the 2009-10 season.
CROSS-CHANNEL PRIORITY: The 2011 NHL All-Star Game on VERSUS as well as same-day coverage of both “Hockey Day in America” on NBC and the “Heritage Classic” on VERSUS were identified by NBCUniversal’s Marketing Council as cross-channel priorities. They received extensive promotion across NBCUniversal’s 20 channels and more than 40 websites. All three events leveraged the newly-expanded resources of the NBC Sports Group by combining the national media assets of NBC Sports and VERSUS and local insight from storied hockey markets like Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia served by Comcast SportsNet. As a result:
- VERSUS scored its most-watched NHL All-Star Game in its history and generated a viewership increase up 36 percent vs. the 2009 game. There was no game in 2010 due to the Vancouver Olympics.
- NBC Sports’ coverage of Penguins-Blackhawks, the second game of “Hockey Day in America,” was watched by 1.9 million viewers, making it the most-watched non-Winter Classic NHL regular-season game in five years (1/14/06, three-game regional on NBC, 2.0 million).
- The 2011 Heritage Classic on VERSUS, played between two Canadian teams (Montreal at Calgary) and won in a 4-0 blowout by Calgary, averaged 608,000 viewers, making it the most-watched regular-season game between two Canadian teams on cable since NHL viewership became available by Nielsen in the 1993/94 season.
–NBC Sports Group–