As this is the first year that NBC will be able to air its national cable telecasts in most home markets during the NHL Playoffs’ first round, it will unveil a new feature. With Chicago, San Jose and Washington in the playoffs, NBC Sports can tap its Comcast SportsNet/NBC Sports regional networks to produce the telecasts while utilizing national and local announce crews on said productions.
This won’t be in effect when the NBC broadcast network airs games on the weekends, but when CNBC, NBCSN or USA Network air the Capitals, Blackhawks or Sharks, NBC Sports can utilize the local production facilities without having to move in its own trucks. While it is one way to consolidate costs, it also allows fans to watch either the local or national telecast and get different perspectives of the same game.
And being able to tap its regional networks brings some advantages for NBC/NBCSN:
“Instead of NBCSN traveling in a full crew and truck, we’ll be utilizing the RSN existing facility,” says John McGuinness, NHL coordinating producer, NBC Sports Group. “In essence, our RSN is providing enhanced coverage. NBCSN commentators react to the pictures and replays provided by the RSN. We have some camera feeds that allow NBCSN to break away from local RSN advertisements. The NBCSN producer onsite is sitting in the RSN control room and can see and hear what the RSN producer is planning and relay that to our talent.”
And NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood tells Sports Video Group that eliminating local blackouts (except in Boston and Pittsburgh) will only help viewers in the long run:
“It’s good that the league was able to work out this new plan,” Flood explains. “I think it’s a win for the fans, so it will be a lot less confusing where the games are and when these local blackouts hit, which at times made people a little bit unaware of where to go. Now you know where to go. We like that. Simplicity is a good thing.”
So NBC Sports is keeping it simple with one production for two announce crews for series involving Chicago, San Jose and Washington. For other series, NBC will bring its own production trucks, but with eight series underway in the first round, it’s a whirlwind for the network. Consolidating productions is one way to to help keep things simple.