For the fifth straight year for hockey fans in the United States, every game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be seen on NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, and NHL Network. All games can also be seen streaming live on-the-go via the NBC Sports Live Extra app.
The one difference this time around for NBC’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is there will be more games aired in primetime on NBC, up to 9 games overall (8 playoff games were aired in primetime on NBC last year with 7 involving the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks). Another twist to NBC’s Playoff coverage will occur on May 7. Usually, a game will air on NBC leading into coverage of the Kentucky Derby. For this year, a primetime game will not only lead in, but also lead out NBC’s coverage of the Kentucky Derby. Two weeks later, another primetime game will lead out NBC’s coverage of the next Triple Crown race, the Preakness Stakes. This move was all in response to what happened in horse racing last few years.
Originally, NBCSN was supposed to air Games 2 and 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Game 2 would fall on the first Saturday of June, the same day as the final race of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. Well, in the last two runnings of the Belmont Stakes, the Triple Crown was on the line; California Chrome in 2014, and American Pharoah in 2015. NBC Sports made the smart decision to move the game from NBCSN to NBC to lead the race into game coverage, just in case Chome or Pharoah won the Triple Crown. In 2014, when California Chrome’s bid for the Triple Crown fell short when Tonalist won the Belmont Stakes, an average of 20.6 million watched the Belmont Stakes. Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final that same night averaged 6.4 million viewers, making that game, at the time, the most-watched Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on broadcast television. The next year, when American Pharoah became the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years, an average of 22 million watched the Belmont Stakes. Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final that same night averaged 6.6 million viewers, making that game the most-watched Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on broadcast television. NBC is hoping to bank on the success of the Triple Crown in 2016 to help propel ratings during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Also part of NBC’s expanded playoff coverage is an encore of one playoff game aired every weekday morning at 7 AM/6c leading into The Dan Patrick Show. In the last three years, the Stanley Cup Final has averaged over 5 million viewers. Hopefully, with the right matchup, the 2016 Stanley Cup Final is destined to be another classic. And for the second straight year, NBC will use “Don’t Miss A Moment” as its tagline for the Playoffs. And NBC is literally letting you not miss a moment of the playoffs. All the best moments will be posted on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and you’ll get unprecedented access behind-the scenes via Snapchat. Also, you’ll get live real-time reaction during the game via Facebook Live. The first ad for the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, entitled “Homemade Heroes”, shows how from a young age, the sacrifice, hard work, and determination NHL players are willing to do to get their name on the Stanley Cup. Using the mantra “Push, Fall, Rise, Repeat” throughout the 30-second commercial, when a player finally gets to raise the Stanley Cup over his head, he knew it took a lot to get to that moment.
For the Conference Finals, the second commercial entitled “Meaning” describes the journeys of the Stanley Cup, and the connection The Cup makes to those who love the game of hockey.