Thu. Oct 18th, 2018

NBCSN to Take NHL Live on the Road in 2018

NBCSN will be moving NHL Live out of the studio for more than half of the network’s Wednesday night doubleheaders this season. NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood says the idea came after watching the way fans interacted with the live show during the Stanley Cup Finals. “It captured more fans and more fans captured that sense of urgency, sense of excitement, and sense of being part of something. That inclusiveness that makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger.”

There will be 17 NHL doubleheaders on NBCSN this season. The show will be on the road for nine of them. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic says that a live pregame show is part of NBC’s efforts to make Wednesday feel for NHL fans the way Sundays do for NFL fans.

He also noted in a  column earlier this week that a live pregame show and other new ways of packaging NHL content might be a necessity for NBC and NBCSN.

It’s probably wise to try new things given last year’s regular-season viewership across NBC and NBCSN were at their lowest level under the current 10-year media-rights deal, per Sports Business Daily.

In addition to trying to generate more excitement for hockey, an on-location studio show might also be an effort to create a point of differentiation for NBCSN. The NHL will utilize another national broadcast partner this season. More than 180 games will be streamed via ESPN+. The OTT service also has its own studio show: In the Crease with Linda Cohn and Barry Melrose.