Today, NBC Sports announced its broadcast schedule for the upcoming 2018-19 season. The Nashville Predators will appear on a franchise-record 12 national broadcasts, which is the most for one team this season.
The Nashville Predators have always been looked at as a small-market team in the NHL. For years, Predators fans have been wondering when their team would start to get the respect and exposure nationally that was deserved. Things slowly started to change for the team in 2016-2017. First, the Predators acquired PK Subban, a bonafide NHL superstar. Then came the improbable Stanley Cup run later that same season. Suddenly, there were millions of more eyes on this small-market team learning just how good the Predators are.
Following the 2016-2017 season, it was announced by NBC Sports that the Predators would be getting seven nationally televised games for the 2017-18 season; a record at the time for the team. I’m assuming the numbers for those seven games must have been greater than NBC expected because it was announced today that the Predators will have twelve nationally broadcast games this season. Eleven of those games will be on NBC Sports Network, and one will be on NBC.
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From their press release today, it’s clear that NBC Sports is trying a few new methods to increase exposure to non-traditional matchups. See the below excerpt from NBC Sports’ Sam Flood, Executive Producer and President of Production.
"“With the impressive growth of fan interest in non-traditional NHL markets combined with the emergence of a number of rising stars, we felt the time was right to broaden our Wednesday night schedule and evolve the brand. Fans will still see plenty of games between traditional powers, but our new approach to Wednesday nights – including a record number of doubleheaders – allows us to show more rising stars and more Western Conference and Canadian teams than ever before.”"
There’s no doubt that the “impressive growth…in non-traditional NHL markets” is the main reason the Predators received so many national games. Predators fans have always known how great of a hockey town Nashville is; it’s only been the past few years that outsiders are learning that as well. Flood also mentioned the “number of rising stars.” Nashville has a few of those too. Besides the obvious choice of NHL 19 cover athlete, PK Subban, the Predators have also seen players like Pekka Rinne, Filip Forsberg, and Viktor Arvidsson receive more national attention.
Nashville will also have the most number of nationally televised games this season in the league. The big names like Pittsburgh and Chicago will still get their share of games on the NBC networks, but none will have more than the Predators. To me, that’s a great sign that the rest of the world is catching onto how great of a team the Predators are. I really believe that this increased number of national games is a big step in taking the Predators from a “small-market” team to a major NHL market.
Here is the complete schedule for the Predators’ nationally televised games:
- October 4th: Predators @ Rangers, 7:30pm EST (NBCSN)
- October 23rd: Sharks @ Predators, 8:00pm EST (NBCSN)
- October 30th: Golden Knights @ Predators, 8:00pm EST (NBCSN)
- November 7th: Predators @ Avalanche, 10:00pm EST (NBCSN)
- December 18th: Predators @ Blackhawks, 8:30pm EST (NBCSN)
- January 9th: Predators @ Blackhawks, 8:00pm EST (NBCSN)
- January 23rd: Predators @ Golden Knights, 10:00pm EST (NBCSN)
- February 10th: Blues @ Predators, 12:30pm EST (NBC)
- February 21st: Kings @ Predators, 8:00pm EST (NBCSN)
- March 3rd: Predators @ Wild, 7:30pm EST (NBCSN)
- March 5th: Wild @ Predators, 8:00pm EST (NBCSN)
- March 25th: Predators @ Wild, 8:00pm EST (NBCSN)