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.