April 12, 2010
A few folks have asked (including noted media gadfly Dan Levy) why the Eastern Conference playoff series between the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers is the only one without a game scheduled for the VERSUS network in the first round.
Especially because, you know, the same company owns the cable channel and the Flyers ...
The current schedule for the Devils/Flyers series, and the games that take precedence:
NJD/PHI Game 1: Wed., April 14 Ottawa at Pittsburgh on VERSUS
NJD/PHI Game 2: Friday, April 16 Ottawa at Pittsburgh on VERSUS
NJD/PHI Game 3: Sunday, April 18 Pittsburgh at Ottawa on VERSUS
NJD/PHI Game 4: Tuesday, April 20 Pittsburgh at Ottawa on VERSUS
NJD/PHI Game 5: *Thursday, April 22 Ottawa at Pittsburgh on VERSUS
NJD/PHI Game 6: *Sunday, April 25 Phoenix at Detroit, NBC (Vancouver at Los Angeles is the VERSUS game.)
NJD/PHI Game 7: *Tuesday, April 27 TBD
* If necessary
As we understand it, the process behind playoff scheduling begins with arena availability and travel considerations before the networks get their mitts on which games to televise.
Now, VERSUS doesn't have any exclusivity in the first round of the playoffs, meaning that your local cable networks are going to have coverage of these games and the VERSUS broadcast will be blacked out locally. In the second round, two games per series will be exclusive, and then everything's exclusive on VERSUS after that.
Which brings us to the Devils/Flyers decision.
Their series was scheduled by the NHL against the Penguins/Senators series, and clearly the decision was made that the Penguins and Sidney Crosby(notes) were a more far-reaching national draw than a Devils/Flyer series, since neither of them would have the benefit of a local ratings (New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia metro area) surge.
So even with the Penguins playing a relative meek U.S draw in the Ottawa Senators, they were deemed a better ratings generator nationally than Jersey vs. Philly. A source tells us that if the other series go quickly, Games 6 and 7 of the Devils/Flyers series may be televised on VERSUS.
As for NHL Network, we hear they will have some Canadian broadcasts but haven't heard anything definitive. We'll update when we do.