Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/05/10 at 03:13 PM ET
NEW YORK, N.Y. (October 5, 2010)-VERSUS will drop the puck on the 2010/11 NHL regular season, and its sixth year of on-ice action, with an unprecedented amount of coverage featuring nine games across the first seven days of the season. The network’s coverage begins with a triple-header on Thursday when the Carolina Hurricanes battle the Minnesota Wild from Helsinki, Finland, at 12 p.m. ET, followed by a Keystone State showdown between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers at 7 p.m. ET before finishing the night with a match-up featuring the Colorado Avalanche and 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks at 10 p.m. ET. Every NHL game on VERSUS is available in HD.
The first week of coverage continues with three additional overseas games from Helsinki; Stockholm, Sweden and Prague, Czech Republic on Friday and Saturday afternoon. The network will then feature exclusive coverage of the Colorado Avalanche/Detroit Red Wings contest on October 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET in VERSUS’ regularly-scheduled Tuesday night slot, as well as games on Wednesday (New York Islanders at Washington Capitals, 7 p.m. ET) and Thursday night (Tampa Bay Lightning at Philadelphia Flyers, 7 p.m. ET), marking the first time in network history that bonus games will be played during the opening week.
During each NHL season, VERSUS always seeks to institute production enhancements to provide an even better viewing experience for fans. After receiving huge acclaim for utilizing a hi-motion super slow mo camera during the 2010 postseason, VERSUS will add this technology, which provides viewers with greater in-game analysis, to select games throughout the regular season.
The network’s studio show, Hockey Central, with host Bill Patrick and analysts Keith Jones and Brian Engblom will wrap up each night of NHL coverage. In addition, VERSUS is increasing its on-air studio presence by adding pre-game shows before 30 game telecasts this season, starting on October 7 at 6:30 p.m. ET. The added pre-game shows will allow the network to air additional features profiling the on- and off-ice personalities of the players in a more in-depth and complete manner.
Last year Hockey Central featured high-profile guest analysts during regular season coverage and will continue to feature guests on select telecasts this year. Darren McCarty, 17-year NHL veteran and four-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Detroit Red Wings, will once again join the studio team as will Aaron Ward, who secured three Stanley Cup Champion titles during his 13 years in the NHL. The studio show will also feature Mike Milbury, currently an analyst for NHL telecasts on NBC and CBC and whose NHL tenure included a 12-season career with the Boston Bruins and as GM of the Islanders, on several telecasts. Dave Maloney, who played in the NHL for 11 seasons and was the youngest player to serve as Captain for the New York Rangers, will also make in-studio appearances.
Shortly after announcing the 2010/11 regular season schedule, VERSUS picked up an additional bonus game which will feature the Florida Panthers at the Washington Capitals on December 9. This addition brings VERSUS’ total number of games to 79, 14 more than last season, including 53 exclusive games and 26 bonus games.
The network will also air All-Star weekend and cap off the final week of the regular season with a game each night (Monday-Friday) leading into the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. One major addition to VERSUS’ 2010/11 regular season schedule is coverage of the NHL Heritage Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames from McMahon Stadium on Sunday, February 20, at 6 p.m. ET. This game, which is the first outdoor game in Canada since 2003, is also the first outdoor game ever broadcast on cable in the United States. For the network’s complete schedule, visit versus.com.
VERSUS is entering the 2010/11 regular season with a ton of momentum based on tremendous ratings and viewership successes last season. The network saw a 33-percent spike in HH ratings and a 20-percent increase in average viewership for the final six weeks of exclusive regular season game coverage as compared to the season prior. In the postseason, the Conference Quarterfinal and Semifinal rounds were the most-watched first two rounds on cable since NHL Playoff viewership became available by Nielsen in the 1993/94 season, Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final made VERSUS the most-watched cable network in the country while Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final averaged 3.369 million viewers, up five percent over the 2009 average (3.212 million viewers). Overall, last year’s postseason was the most-watched on cable since 2002.
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