PHILADELPHIA -- The 2012 Winter Classic start time was officially shifted to 3 p.m. on Jan. 2 for "optimal conditions," according to the NHL. Which undermines months of promotion by NBC for the 1 p.m. start time, as well as the Classic-boosted launch of the NBC Sports Network rebranding on VERSUS.
What will NBC do? Coverage will still go on the air at 1 p.m. ET with "live interviews, features and other content." Wonder if that means some choice cuts from the alumni game.
Regarding the Network Formerly Known As VERSUS, NBC announced:
The NBC Sports Network (currently VERSUS) will still launch at 4 p.m. ET with a special edition of NBC SportsTalk leading into a Winter Classic post-game show at the conclusion of the game.
The new NBC Sports Network will continue with hockey-themed programming at 6 p.m. ET with the premiere of Cold War on Ice: Summit Series '72 produced by Ross Greenburg. The documentary focuses on the hockey series played in 1972 between a team of Canadian NHL all-stars and the Soviet Union national team during the height of the Cold War.
Cold War on Ice will be followed by NHL Live at 7:30 p.m. ET and the Vancouver Canucks hosting the San Jose Sharks at 8 p.m. ET. NHL Live post-game and NHL Overtime will end the NBC Sports Network's first day.
The NHL benefitted from the time shift last season, as the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals avoided stiff competition from bowl games for a prime time ratings win.
This season, at 1 p.m., the Winter Classic was up against the Outback Bowl (Michigan State and Georgia) on ABC; daytime soaps and syndicated programming on CBS and local programming on FOX; the Capital One Bowl (Nebraska and South Carolina) on ESPN; and the Gator Bowl on ESPN2 (Florida and Ohio State).
The shift to 3 p.m. means the Winter Classic will match up against the Rose Bowl on ESPN (Wisconsin and Oregon) and a ton of local programming.