As the NHL Playoffs are about to begin, one of the pet peeves for NBC was that it had to black out its telecasts in the local U.S. home markets in the first round. Take the Chicago-Nashville series for example. In the past, NBCSN or its sister networks would be blacked out to protect the Comcast SportsNet Chicago and Fox Sports Tennessee broadcasts. Not this year.

Starting Wednesday, NBC’s first round cable telecasts on CNBC, NBCSN, NHL Network and USA will now be aired in the local markets. However, in Boston and Pittsburgh, those markets will still black out any NBC Sports cable telecasts.

This also includes streaming of the games on the NBC Sports app and NBCSports.com. Home markets except for Boston and Pittsburgh will be allowed to stream the games.

This marks the first time in NBC’s recent history with the NHL that it won’t have to black out a majority of its first round games. Since NBCSN (née OLN then Versus, then NBC Sports Network) began airing the NHL in 2005-06, it had to conduct a full blackout of its first round playoff games in the home markets. Up until its most recent contract with the NHL, selected second round games were also blacked out, but now with this new development, fans can watch both the local and national telecasts on cable.

But viewers in Boston and Pittsburgh will still have to watch their respective series on NESN and Root Sports except when the NBC television network picks up a game as will be the case for Game 2 of Boston-Otttawa on Saturday. And viewers there won’t be able to stream the cable telecasts online either.

And this comes at a fortunate time for local markets that have Charter Spectrum systems as it appears Fox is heading towards a blackout of its Fox Sports Net channels in several NHL markets.

So it’s a new development for the NHL as NBC’s cable networks will air playoff games side-by-side with the local RSN’s.

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

  • CreightonRabs

    Fuck you, Root Sports. Pens fans have to put up with the worst home TV crew in the first round instead of having a choice to listen to the national feed while the rest of the nation gets a choice? What a joke.

    • Shawn Diiorio

      Game 2 is on The NHL Network, which likely means the Pens telecast will be seen on that network nationwide.

      • Septic Bladder

        Shawn,
        I’m pretty certain NHL Network will use the NBC or SportsNet Canada productions for any games they carry.
        For example, NHLN is showing Bruins – Sens Wednesday night and we get Bob Cole and Greg Millen from SN / Hockey Night in Canada.

        I know I won’t be happy if we get the Pens idiots.

        • Shawn Diiorio

          Sportsnet likely is not sending a broadcast team to cover that series. They will probably use a US broadcasted feed for their games, NBC Sports is not sending a team either because it’s not on NBC, USA or any other of their networks. Unless NHL Network suddenly has the budget to send a team, we either get the Columbus Broadcast or The Pittsburgh one, and since it’s in Pittsburgh, odds are we get the home teams.

      • CreightonRabs

        Dear god, no. Please, NHL Network, take the Columbus feed. Don’t subject America to the idiocy that is (Pens TV play-by-play guy) Paul Steigerwald. There’s a reason that this site’s readers voted the Pens TV announcers as the worst in the NHL.

    • skirkpat12

      You think ROOT Sports is bad try listening to Jack Edwards. It’s like nails on a chalk board

  • skirkpat12

    Jack Edwards is the biggest homer that I can’t even turn on NESN any more.

  • Stan Etelman

    At least the NY area can hear Gord Miller and Ray Ferraro instead of Sam(the Nose)Rosen and Joe(another great play the Rangers)Micheletti.

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  • If there are supposedly no blackouts (other than PIT and BOS) can someone explain this? Perhaps streaming is blacked out. Or I was using “the wrong” streaming app? But it was shown on USA Network on TV, so I at least got it on DVR – at home.

    https://twitter.com/askmrlee/status/852318225899544577

  • DTeig

    I live in Superior, WI which is right next to Duluth, MN…and being from Duluth, I’m a Minnesota sports fan. So you can’t imagine how INFURIATING it’s been for the past few years when I want to watch Minnesota Wild playoff hockey and it’s blacked out in Superior, WI. It’s a confusing problem but try to follow me here: I have Charter…in Duluth Charter has FSN which broadcasts Twins, Wild, and Timberwolves. But in Superior, they have FS-WI which broadcasts Brewers and Bucks and sometimes Wild hockey as well. So, even though FS-WI is not showing a particular Wild playoff game, NBCSN will still be blacked out in Superior, WI. That means I have 2 channels that could broadcast the WIld playoff game, neither of them is showing it. And I end up having to listen on the radio which is fine in the regular season but leaves much to be desired in the playoffs. In fact, just to piss me off even more, NBCSN will show some awful sport like horse racing or soccer during the game. So, I hope this doesn’t happen this year. It’s only round 1 that I have to worry about, because once round 1 is over, FSN/FS-WI stops broadcasting Wild playoff games altogether and it’s left to the national broadcasters. This problem I’ve had for the past years is simply an overlook by Charter who clearly doesn’t pay much attention to details because if they did they would understand that it doesn’t make sense to blackout a program that isn’t available on another channel. But what else would you expect from a cable company? They’re all pure shit. LET’S GO WILD!!!!

    • DTeig

      To be clear, this all takes place at my office. At home I have DISH. And I pay extra for Minnesota sports channels so it’s not even an issue. But as I’m always working the nights of playoffs, at least round 1, this problem has occurred year after year.