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Part of the Stanley Cup Final is going to stay on cable, and that’s fine

Twitter is an interesting place. It’s the social media app of the future, guaranteeing us an instant connection with hundreds of millions of people around the world. Yet… so many of them complain to me about a hockey game airing on cable television twice a year.

Yes, the fact that NBCSN broadcasts two games in every Stanley Cup Final is still somehow an issue of contention among hockey fans. Every year, hockey fans bring their moan game to Twitter to make one of the following points:

  • That NBC is choosing to put Stanley Cup Final games on NBCSN to instead air such lower-class programs like American Ninja Warrior and Growing Up Fisher.
  • That NBCSN is still a network not worthy of airing Stanley Cup Final games.
  • That the whole arrangement shows why Gary Bettman is an idiot or something.

These people are angry and I guess they have a right to be angry. They’re not entirely right about any of their points. Here are some facts that they may want to consider when they complain about NBCSN airing the Stanley Cup Final.

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  • NBC Sports Network, formerly VERSUS (and formerly OLN), has aired two games of the Stanley Cup Final every year since it acquired NHL rights in 2006.
  • No Stanley Cup Final series has ever aired all its games on broadcast television.
  • There have been at least two games on cable every year since 1981. The Final aired entirely on cable from 1981-1994.
  • This is the fifth time in six years that NBCSN/VS has aired Games 3-4.

Also, it’s worth noting that this isn’t going away. NBCSN is contracted to broadcast at least two games of the Final every year until the NHL’s TV agreement expires in 2021. It’s also worth noting that the NHL is not alone in seeing its key event move to cable. The Olympics, BCS (now college football playoffs), World Cup, NCAA Tournament, most of the college football bowl season, British Open, Wimbledon and both MLB League Championship Series are migrating off of broadcast. This is the way things are going.

So, continue to complain all you want about NBCSN airing Stanley Cup Final games. Maybe somehow it helps draw attention and buzz to the channel, and that’s good for hockey. But know that this arrangement is not going to change, at least not for the next seven years.

By the way, this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs were the most watched on cable in 17 years, averaging 1.1 million viewers over 77 games.

Steve Lepore

About Steve Lepore

Steve Lepore is a writer for Bloguin and a correspondent for SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.

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