TV Exposure Ramps Up
The television landscape for college hockey has changed dramatically in recent seasons, and 2011-12 will offer more games than ever to a national audience.
Note: For a complete list of games available nationally, visit our TV Schedule
Wednesday's announcement of a 16-game schedule on NBC Sports Network (currently known as Versus) means more than 125 games will be broadcast on regional or national sports networks between now and the Frozen Four championship game, which will be on ESPN as usual.
"Broadcasters have seen that we have a great product, and they know college hockey has a passionate fanbase," College Hockey, Inc. Executive Director Paul Kelly said. "This kind of coverage allows us to reach new fans and prospective players, which can only help grow the game in the future."
NBC Sports Network is the second national network to add regular-season coverage, joining CBS Sports Network. Dating to its previous incarnations as CSTV and CBS College Sports, that network has televised college hockey for years. Both NBC and CBS plan to televise all of their games in high definition.
'So Much Exposure'
"One thing that has exploded in college hockey is the television coverage," CBS analyst Dave Starman said this summer at College Hockey, Inc.'s golf tournament. "The networks that have been doing games such as CBS Sports Network, there are so many games that are on. There is so much exposure for players in these programs. I think when a young player makes a decision about where to play, you have to think about the fact that their games are not just being seen by the people in the building, they are being seen by people across North America because of the exposure college hockey gets on television."
Most Friday and Saturday nights offer fans and scouts with DirecTV or DISH Networkmultiple college hockey games on the air. On Feb. 17 the number peaks, with no fewer than 14 college hockey teams in action on the dish. That evening includes a doubleheader on CBS Sports Network (Notre Dame at Miami, Nebraska-Omaha at Colorado College) and an NBC Sports Network game (Dartmouth at Yale).
Many games, including those on CBS Sports Network and the Big Ten Network, are also available on select carriers in Canada.
Coverage on NBC Sports Network promises to increase with Notre Dame's move to Hockey East in 2013-14. Another promising element of that network's coverage is the alignment of college hockey with the NHL, which has called the network its national cable home since 2005.
"Hockey fans know Versus, or what will become NBC Sports Network," Kelly added. "That offers college hockey an opportunity to get in front of those fans - hockey fans in places like California, Texas or Florida who can't see college hockey in their backyard."
NBC Sports Network's college hockey games will be produced by many ofthe same people who handle their NHL games, and their Friday night broadcasts will lead into the network's NHL Overtime show.
As usual, the NCAA Tournament will be carried on the ESPN family of networks, with ESPNU covering the bulk of NCAA Regional games, ESPN2 covering the semifinals and ESPN covering the championship game.