I’ve heard a lot of negative thoughts about the NHL’s new deal with NBC ever since the day it was signed. The sport will continue to not get the exposure it deserves, even a few games on ESPN would have been better. The oddest thing I heard cynicism about was the clause in the contract that required every game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to be on national television. Some were thinking they’d dump it on the SyFy channel, or E!, or Universal Sports or any of the other myriad cable doldrums the networks of NBC Universal inhabit.
If you tuned into the networks of NBC this weekend and saw the schedule release yesterday, however, you’d be hard-pressed to continue thinking that way. NBC aired 13 hours of hockey coverage between NBC and NBC Sports Network on Saturday, including four games and what amounted to more than two hours of studio coverage. This capped off a week in which NBC and NBC Sports Network combined to air a total of 38 hours of hockey coverage, between 12 games and tons of studio shows, you can’t say the NHL’s exciting race to the finish went ignored. Unless you were watching your local team on Saturday, if you loved hockey and live in the US, you were glued to NBCSN.