NBC Sports Group Primed for Original Six Matchup in Stanley Cup Final

There’s no secret, the NBC Sports Group and the NHL couldn’t be more thrilled with the Stanley Cup Final that starts tomorrow night (8 p.m. ET, NBC): an Original Six matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins.

“When you have two franchises that are the foundation of the National Hockey League and what it is today, the sports towns these teams play in, the passion of the fans, and the success that these teams and organizations have had recently, it is incredibly special that you can have two Original Six teams meeting in the Stanley Cup Final,” says Eddie Olczyk, who will analyze the Stanley Cup Final alongside play-by-play man Mike “Doc” Emrick and Pierre McGuire. “The Original Six adds a little extra pizzazz to the Stanley Cup Final.”

StanleyCup1It will undoubtedly add a huge ratings boost as well, which is sorely needed following a season shortened by a lockout that seems ages ago. Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Kings and Blackhawks on Saturday night logged a 2.9 overnight rating, the best ever for a Conference Final on NBC. And, with the match-up of two teams that draw huge numbers in their markets, NBC Sports execs have to be salivating.

In the production compound, Executive Producer Sam Flood is never one to sweat the ratings. He’s just getting his crew, headed by the producer/director team of John McGuiness and Jeff Simon, ready to go in Chicago Wednesday night.

The same production team and equipment setup will work the entire Final, shipping back and forth between Chicago and Boston as the series dictates. NEP Broadcasting’s ND5 and ND6, NBC Sports’ primary trucks for the NHL schedule, will work at both sites with a B unit along to support.

A total of 12 cameras will be deployed in the arenas, including two super-slow-motion units; NBC’s high-speed camera of choice throughout the season was Sony’s HDC3300R, which captures 1920×1080 images at three times the normal frame rate.

NHL on NBC will take its studio show out of its home at NBC Sports Group’s Stamford, CT, facility and onto the road. Host Liam McHugh and analysts Keith Jones, Mike Milbury, and Jeremy Roenick will break down the action pregame, postgame, and between periods from the set, which will be constructed in a luxury box at the arena.

Digital Boom
This year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs were the first since the introduction of NBC Sports Group’s live-streaming TV Everywhere product, NBC Sports Live Extra, and the numbers coming in on its use are through the roof.

Through the first three rounds of the playoffs, which include 76 streamed games, there were 40,590,591 minutes of live streaming, up 289% from last season (10,427,216 minutes, 12 games streamed) and 1,198% from 2011 (3,126,562, eight games). Those numbers are according to Adobe Site Catalyst. The app for mobile devices and tablets has added 14,293,950 views on its own, further bolstering the overall total.

“The Stanley Cup Playoffs are performing well beyond our expectations,” says Rick Cordella, SVP/GM, NBC Sports Group Digital Media. “In our first year of comprehensive streaming, the Stanley Cup Playoffs have already demonstrated that they are among the most successful digital events in sports, only exceeded by massive events such as the Olympics, the World Cup, and March Madness.”

According to NBC, the two most-streamed games were Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final (2.59 million minutes) and Game 5 of the Western Conference Final (2.58 million minutes).

“This year’s playoffs have also been a success for TV Everywhere,” Cordella adds. “We are seeing that consumers are extremely comfortable with the need to verify their cable, telco, or satellite subscriptions to watch must-see sports content.”