Raise your hand if you remember watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs on USA Network. OK, you four can put your hands down. The NBCUniversal-owned cable net will share this year’s postseason wealth with NBC, NBCSN and CNBC, bringing Cup games to the USA for the first time since 1985, when Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers won their second consecutive title.
Starting on April 15, nets in the NBC Sports Group will cover every Cup game for the fourth consecutive year. NBC will air as many as eight games in primetime, the most since it acquired rights 10 years ago. Ratings haven’t delivered the power play that brass had hoped for, which could be a factor in NBCU spreading games to another TV sibling.
“In today’s competitive TV landscape, live sports continue to be an invaluable part of the programming mix, attracting a large audience and serving as a powerful promotional platform,” said USA Network President Chris McCumber. “USA is proud to be partnering with NBC Sports on this new venture to bring live sports back to the network.”
There was a time in the early 1980s when USA was the only place Americans could watch national National Hockey League games. Dan Kelly and Gary Green called the action for NHL On USA, which is where yanks got to watch Gretzky post his likely unbreakable scoring records in 1981-82 and all-timer Mario Lemieux score a goal on his first NHL shift in 1984.