In a surprising announcement earlier today, USA Hockey revealed that it has reached an exclusive long-term agreement with NHL Network, which will become television home for the IIHF World Junior Championship in the United States for the next seven years.
This is a significant development for the future of the World Junior Championship in the United States as the tournament continues to gain popularity. The agreement between USA Hockey and NHL Nework is the first long-term deal of its kind in the U.S., as it pertains to the World Junior Championship.
The NHL Network has carried the U.S. games with its own production staff since 2009. Prior to that, NHLN had taken TSN’s feed of games and aired those live in the U.S. And prior to that, it was an annual crap shoot if you’d be able to see any of it.
“We’re extremely pleased to extend our partnership with the NHL Network,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey in a release. “They’re passionate about televising the World Junior Championship and fans will notice continued enhancements in their coverage of Team USA and the tournament overall.”
“The IIHF World Junior Championship is not only a preeminent international hockey tournament, it has become known as the place to view future NHL stars,” said Bob Chesterman, NHL Network vice president of programming. “Viewers will see a high level of skill and talent and intense match-ups between rival countries. The World Junior Championship is an excellent complement to our NHL programming.”
Steve Lepore, of the fantastic blog, Puck the Media, has the NHL’s full release on its plans for coverage of the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship on both NHL.com and NHL Network.
Perhaps American hockey fans have another reason to thank John Carlson. The World Junior Championship saw its biggest spike in popularity Stateside when Team USA captured gold in that most thrilling fashion in 2010.
The tournament stirred some national pride and was followed a month later by the exciting 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Those two combined to give a boost to the profile of international hockey in the United States.
The international factor, and the chance to see many of the game’s top prospects under one roof is a pretty enticing viewing experience.
The World Juniors provides such an exciting brand of hockey. When the elites of the tournament match up, there’s always a good game. To be able to have a consistent television home in the U.S., where fans can be exposed to the excitement of the tournament will only help this continue to grow.
This is a savvy move for NHL Network to capitalize on the growing popularity, as well as give itself some original non-NHL programming to keep hockey fans both engaged and expose them to something new. As the Network continues to evolve, the World Juniors will be a part of that evolution. That’s exciting for all parties involved.
Now, let’s get to the details of the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship broadcast:
Per USA Hockey’s release, NHL Network will air all of Team USA’s games throughout the tournament, all medal-round games (from quarterfinals on), and five additional preliminary-round games. In addition, NHL.com will stream all of the U.S. National Junior Team’s games live. (As far as I know this means even if you don’t have NHL Network, you’ll be able to see the U.S. games live on NHL.com.
Working on getting confirmation. Confirmed. If you have the internet, and if you’re reading this blog, you do, you can watch Team USA. Thanks to Steve Lepore for the scoop.) Here is the complete broadcast schedule (via @Sean_Leahy):
So hockey fans will get a heavy dose of the U.S. and Canada, which is a good thing since they’re the two best teams playing on the Edmonton side of the bracket. Then, once the medal round hits, hockey fans will be exposed to the brilliant Russian club and a very strong outfit from Sweden, presumably. Tons of quality coverage.
The broadcast team includes Dave Starman, who returns for his fourth stint as the color man for these broadcasts. He knows the tournament and the players well and you’re always in good hands with Dave. He’s a good follow on Twitter, too.
Sam Rosen will handle play-by-play, while Rob Simpson will serve as rink-side reporter.
Here are the brief bios on each from USA Hockey:
Rosen, who will handle play-by-play duties, has called hockey and football for the Big Ten Network in addition to his extensive broadcast and hosting experience with the Phoenix Coyotes. Rosen has served as the host for all Coyotes Radio Broadcasts as well as the team’s post-game call-in show, “Coyotes Wrap-Up,” and the weekly magazine show “Coyotes Weekly.”
Starman, who will serve as the analyst, will begin his fourth consecutive stint covering Team USA’s games at the IIHF World Junior Championship for NHL Network. He is currently in his ninth season as lead analyst for CBS College Sports’ coverage of NCAA hockey.
Simpson, who will serve as the rinkside reporter for the medal rounds, has regularly contributed to the popular NHL Live show on NHL Network, MSG Network in New York, SIRIUS XM Radio and NHL.com original broadband programming.
So after wondering what was going on with the broadcasts this year, we not only find out the good news for coverage in 2012, but all the way to 2018.
If you’re a fan of the World Junior Championship, or even if you’re just a fan of more hockey on TV, this is a great day for you. Kudos to NHL Network and USA Hockey for getting this done.
FYI, Twitter accounts for Simpson & Vickers: @simmerpuck and @vickersfc respectively.