VERSUS to Air Wall-to-Wall coverage of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Beginning April 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET
Network Skates into Postseason with Double-Digit Viewership Growth
NEW YORK, N.Y. (April 13, 2009)- VERSUS, the network that celebrates real competition and the exclusive cable television home of the National Hockey League (NHL), will kick-off its wall-to-wall coverage of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Conference Quarterfinal round beginning Wednesday, April 15. The network will start the night with a special playoffs preview Hockey Central show at 6:30 p.m. ET followed by game one of the series between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7 p.m. ET. At 10 p.m. ET VERSUS will televise the first game in the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks series. VERSUS will air coverage of all rounds of the playoffs, including games three and four of the Stanley Cup Final. All games in each round will be produced and presented in HD where available.
Now in its fourth season as the exclusive cable television home of the NHL, VERSUS enters the 2009 postseason with double-digit viewership growth for the 2008/09 regular season as compared to the 2007/08 campaign. Total viewership showed an increase of 21 percent and household impressions were up 23 percent, while viewership for all key male demos also showed substantial increases: Men 18-34 (up 51%), Men 18-49 (up 43%) and Men 25-54 (up 41%). The network’s coverage of the 2008/09 NHL regular season reached 32.9 million total viewers, the most ever for an NHL on VERSUS regular season (up 13% from last season).
“VERSUS is heading into the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs with tremendous momentum. In 2008, the network not only aired some of the most-watched NHL postseason games on cable since 2002, but was also the fastest growing cable sports network in the country. That growth continued this year resulting in substantial viewership increases throughout the regular season,” said Marc Fein, Executive Vice President of Programming, Production and Business Operations for VERSUS. “When you combine all of VERSUS’ successes with the momentum the NHL is currently seeing, we’re extremely excited to get this year’s postseason underway.”
Each night throughout the postseason, VERSUS will televise at least one game, however most nights during the first two rounds will feature a doubleheader. In the Conference Quarterfinals, VERSUS’ coverage is non-exclusive and subject to local blackouts. In the Conference Semifinal round VERSUS will air two exclusive games per series and during the Conference Finals the network will air exclusive coverage of both series. The total number of games will vary depending upon the length of each individual series. VERSUS will, when feasible, simulcast games from Canadian networks to give viewers bonus postseason action.
VERSUS’ 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage will culminate with games three and four of the Stanley Cup Final. This is a change from the past three seasons as VERSUS previously aired games one and two of the Final. NBC will broadcast games one and two of the Final as well as games five, six and seven, if necessary.
VERSUS will air its dedicated NHL studio show, Hockey Central, each night the network televises a game. Throughout the 2008/09 regular season, compared to year-ago figures, VERSUS’ Hockey Central telecasts doubled in ratings and saw a 34-percent increase in total viewership. Hosted by Bill Patrick with Brian Engblom and Keith Jones, Hockey Central provides extensive insight and commentary of the games and what’s happening around the NHL in the 2009 Playoffs. Some of the regular segments of Hockey Central include: highlights from all the games being played as well as Plays of the Week; a telestrator segment in which Engblom will breakdown and discuss plays in a visually engaging manner; Parting Shots, where Engblom and Jones debate bullet point debate topics in rapid fire fashion; Live-Look-Ins wherever possible, bringing viewers live action from games being played concurrently during VERSUS’ telecast; and features on NHL players away from the ice.
Each night VERSUS airs a game, the network will deliver a condensed highlight version of the game via the network’s VOD platform. These will be available the morning after game play, so that hockey fans who may not have seen the previous night’s game won’t miss any of the postseason action.
The network’s website, VERSUS , is the online destination for NHL fans to find extensive information about the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. The site will include editorial coverage from some of the most knowledgeable hockey sources and will feature exclusive videos and interviews as well as daily highlights from all of VERSUS’ games. The website will also include editorial coverage from HockeyBuzz.com, which will provide viewers with game projections for each of the network’s telecasts. Viewers will also have access to daily insider video featuring the Hockey Central analysts where they give the inside scoop on what has happened to-date in the playoffs, as well as their predictions for the future games in the series. Fans can also play the Stanley Cup Playoffs trivia game on the website for their chance to win weekly prizes. Additionally, the website will have the Playoff Forecaster which allows fans to track and follow their team’s progression to the Cup. Viewers will also be able to go to VERSUS.com to enter their mobile telephone number to receive real-time game alerts throughout the playoffs so they know when games are about to go in to sudden-death overtime.
VERSUS’ Quarterfinal round schedule follows (All times ET, subject to change):
DATE TIME GAMES CONFERENCE
Wednesday, April 15 7 p.m. Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, Game 1 Eastern
Wednesday, April 15 10 p.m. St. Louis at Vancouver, Game 1 Western
Thursday, April 16 7 p.m. Columbus at Detroit, Game 1 Western
Thursday, April 16 9:30 p.m. (JIP) Calgary at Chicago, Game 1 Western
Thursday, April 16 11 p.m. (JIP) Anaheim at San Jose, Game 1 Western
Friday, April 17 7 p.m. Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, Game 2 Eastern
Friday, April 17 10 p.m. St. Louis at Vancouver, Game 2 Western
Saturday, April 18 8 p.m. Montreal at Boston, Game 2 Eastern
Sunday, April 19 7 p.m. Vancouver at St. Louis, Game 3 Western
Sunday, April 19 10 p.m. Anaheim at San Jose, Game 2 Western
Monday, April 20 7 p.m. Washington at NY Rangers, Game 3 Eastern
Monday, April 20 9:30 p.m. Chicago at Calgary, Game 3 Western
Tuesday, April 21 7 p.m. Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, Game 4 Eastern
Tuesday, April 21 9:30 p.m. (JIP) Vancouver at St. Louis, Game 4 Western
Tuesday, April 21 10:30 p.m. San Jose at Anaheim, Game 3 Western
Wednesday, April 22 7 p.m. Washington at NY Rangers, Game 4 Eastern
Wednesday, April 22 9:30 p.m. Chicago at Calgary, Game 4 Western
Thursday, April 23 7 p.m. Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, Game 5* Eastern
Thursday, April 23 9:30 p.m. (JIP) Carolina at New Jersey, Game 5* Eastern
Thursday, April 23 10:30 p.m. San Jose at Anaheim, Game 4 Western
Friday, April 24 7 p.m. NY Rangers at Washington, Game 5* Eastern
Friday, April 24 10 p.m. St. Louis at Vancouver, Game 5* Western
Saturday, April 25 7 p.m. Columbus at Detroit, Game 5* Western
Saturday, April 25 10 p.m. Anaheim at San Jose, Game 5* Western
Sunday, April 26 7 p.m. New Jersey at Carolina, Game 6* Eastern
Sunday, April 26 9:30 p.m. (JIP) Vancouver at St. Louis, Game 5* Western
Monday, April 27 Time TBD Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, Game 7* Eastern
Monday, April 27 Time TBD San Jose at Anaheim, Game 6* Western
Tuesday, April 28 Time TBD NY Rangers at Washington, Game 7* Eastern
Tuesday, April 28 Time TBD St. Louis at Vancouver, Game 7* Western
Wednesday, April 29 Time TBD Columbus at Detroit, Game 7* Western
Wednesday, April 29 Time TBD Anaheim at San Jose, Game 7* Western
*Games subject to change as best-of-seven series may be over. (JIP) – joined in progress
VERSUS celebrates real competition across all platforms (VERSUS.com, VERSUS on Demand and VERSUS HD). Now in more than 75 million homes, the network is the national cable home of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the IndyCar® Series as well as best-in-class events such as The Tour de France, the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and Professional Boxing. The network also offers collegiate sports featuring nationally-ranked teams from top conferences such as the Pac-10, Big 12, Mountain West and Ivy League. VERSUS features the best field sports programming on television and is a destination for sports fans, athletes and sportsmen to find exclusive, competitive events and original programs, such as Sports Soup and The Contender, that audiences can’t find elsewhere. VERSUS, a wholly owned company of Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK), is distributed via cable systems and satellite operators throughout the United States.