NBC Sports Network Shifts Schedule on Launch Day
Its first official day on the air and the industry’s newest 24/7 all-sports network has already proven itself skilled at working on the fly.
Monday saw Versus officially become the NBC Sports Network and while NBC Sports Group had a full lineup of programming scheduled to mark the event, a shifting of the start time of the NHL’s Winter Classic threw a wrench into those plans.
The original outline was for Versus to officially make the switch to NBC Sports Network at 4 p.m. with a special NHL Live Winter Classic Post-Game show hosted by Bob Costas. However, when the classic was shifted to a 3 p.m. faceoff from its original 1 p.m. start time due to weather concerns, it washed out most of NBC Sports Network’s afternoon programming with it
The 4 p.m. launch went off as planned, instead with a 90-minute edition of NBC Sports Talk airing presumably when most of NBC’s audience was watching the Classic on the ‘mother ship.’
The network’s essential debut than began rather hastily as Costas welcomed fans to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia as the Winter Classic crowd filtered into the parking lot. After a quick recap, Costas than threw to the debut of the documentary Cold War on Ice: Summit Series ’72, the first doc produced by former HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, whom was hired by NBC Sports Group in November. The documentary focuses on the hockey series played in 1972 between a team of Canadian NHL all-stars and the Soviet Union national team during the height of the Cold War.
The network capped its debut lineup with its first live–game broadcast; coverage of the San Jose Sharks at the Vancouver Canucks, followed by a half-hour edition of NHL Live Post-Game.
Despite the juggled schedule, Monday was a pretty thorough look at what NBC Sports Network hopes to be in its infancy.
“We have three tranches of programming that we’re looking to put on NBC Sports Network,” Jon Miller, NBC Sports president of programming, said at a press conference at the network’s Rockefeller Studios in December. “[It] starts with live events, live games, and big-league relationships. The second tranche is original news, talk and conversation. The third tranche is the original programming we’ve developed with the NHL around shows like NHL 36 with the NFL, with NFL Turning Point, the Bob Costas Show that will be breaking this year, Costas Tonight, as well as the Costas Town Halls.
“We’ll embrace the brands that are already associated with NBC Sports like the Triple Crown. We’ve added the MLS to our portfolio. We have a strong, robust relationship with the Tour de France, and then we will obviously have an extensive Olympic presence come June, July and August with the Olympic trials, then actually live Olympic programming throughout the game.”
The remainder of the week with see nights full of NHL action as NHL Live will air at 7 p.m. ET, preceding Detroit Red Wings @ Dallas Stars at 8 p.m. NHL Live Post-Game will than be followed by NBC Sports Talk at 11 p.m. and NHL Overtime at midnight.
On Wednesday, NHL 36, a show that follows an NHL player for a 36-hour time period, debuts at 6:30 p.m. with an inside look at Boston Bruins’ forward Patrice Bergeron. NHL Live will than air at 7 p.m. leading into Bruins @ the New Jersey Devils from Newark’s Prudential Center at 7:30 p.m. Back-to-back hour episodes of NFL Turning Point follows the game and leads into NBC Sports Talk at midnight and NHL Overtime at 12:30 a.m.