Scheduling Logistics Settled as NBC Sports Group Preps For Stanley Cup Playoffs
Ken Goss and Sam Flood rolled the dice, and the Ottawa Senators came through for them.
The NBC Sports Group is geared up to broadcast nationally every game of the journey that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, beginning tonight. Sunday, however, was another story.
Eastern Conference seedings and league-wide Playoffs scheduling were still up in the air on Sunday evening as the Senators battled the Boston Bruins in the makeup of a game postponed by the Boston Marathon Bombing.
Goss, who is SVP, remote operations and production planning, NBC Sports Group, was on the phones with his various crews all day Sunday and even went so far as to gamble on a preliminary schedule from the NHL that would result from a Senators win, sending two production teams out before it was certain that they would actually be playing on Tuesday night.
So, when Kyle Turris buried an empty netter with :37 to go to seal the seventh spot in the East for the Senators, you’ll have to forgive Flood, executive producer, NBC Sports, if he gave a little fist pump.
“That’s when we really started pulling the levers and pushing people in different directions,” he says. “We took a couple of chances and actually went 2 for 2. So some of our crews got to Los Angeles and St. Louis a little early, which is very helpful. It’s an incredible challenge but also a wonderful opportunity to bring all these games to the people.”
For the second consecutive year, NBC Sports Group will broadcast nationally every single game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs — as many as 105 contests and 260 hours of programming — and it all begins in earnest tonight at 8 p.m. ET, when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Minnesota Wild on NBC Sports Network and the Los Angeles Kings visit the St. Louis Blues on CNBC.
“Our number-one priority is to serve the hockey fan,” says Flood. “The league wanted to ensure that the games were available to everyone, and that’s what we partnered up to do with the NHL. Gary Bettman and his team have been fabulous to work with to make sure the schedule works.”
Letting the Game Speak for Itself
To get all of these games on-air, NBC Sports Group will blanket NHL cities in production trucks and gear.
Flood is quick to point out, however, that, when it comes to broadcasting hockey, especially the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there’s little room for fancy, flashy production elements and specialty cameras.
“[On-air analyst] Mike Milbury gets mad anytime we go off the main game camera when the puck is in play,” Flood smiles. “And so do I. Hockey is as much about where the puck can go next than where it is right now. At the end of the game, I don’t want to know who’s directing. I want to know that I saw every goal and saw every opportunity to score a goal.
“So no one can put their stamp on a game with an extra fancy camera or an extra five camera cuts,” he continues. “Let’s let the game speak for itself.”
Stamford Steps Up
The Stanley Cup Playoffs will be the first for NBC Sports Group operated out of its sparkling new (and still partially under construction) broadcast center in Stamford, CT.
With games set to air on NBC, NBC Sports Network, and CNBC, NBC will use plenty of equipment and studio space to supplement all of the game coverage.
It’s a huge step up from last year when NBC Sports Group was still working out of Rockefeller Center. In fact, for last year’s CNBC games, Flood notes that a small storage closet had to be cleaned out and fitted with a stage and camera for host Bill Patrick and analyst Jeremy Roenick. This year will be just a shade different.
On most weeknights, fans can expect NHL studio programming for games airing on both NBC Sports Network and CNBC, sometimes simultaneously. NHL Live will usually begin one hour prior to game time, with postgame coverage airing immediately after the final game of the night.
On most days, the NHL Live team of Liam McHugh, Milbury, and Keith Jones will staff the studio for games airing on NBC and NBC Sports Network, with Patrick and Roenick working the studio for CNBC games. Host Russ Thaler and analysts Mike Keenan and Anson Carter form an additional team of studio commentators to help handle the load of games, especially in the opening round.
NBC Sports Live Extra — the NBC Sports Group’s live-streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets — will stream all Stanley Cup Playoff games that air on NBC, NBC Sports Network, and CNBC, including the Stanley Cup Final for the first time.
The vast majority of games will be live-streamed via TV Everywhere, the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to authenticated customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms.
On desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app for mobile devices and tablets is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and on selected Android handset and tablet devices within Google Play.
Games airing on NBC, NBC Sports Network, and CNBC will live-stream to PCs, mobile devices, and tablets through NBC Sports Live Extra. Those one NBC Sports Network and CNBC will also stream to the digital platforms of participating cable, satellite, and telco services, via TV Everywhere, which is available on an authenticated basis to subscribers of participating services.