NHL on ABC

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NHL on ABC
Nhlonabc.jpg
NHL on ABC logo used from 1999 to 2004
GenreHockey telecasts
Presented byJohn Saunders
Gary Thorne
Mike Emrick
Al Michaels
Bill Clement
Jim Schoenfeld
John Davidson
Al Morganti
Barry Melrose
Chris Berman
Steve Levy
Dave Strader
Darren Pang
Brian Engblom
Erin Andrews
Sam Ryan
Theme music composerBob Christianson
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2 (199294 version)
5 (19992004 version)
7 (total)
Production
Production location(s)Various NHL stadiums (game telecasts)
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time180 minutes or until end of game
Production company(s)ABC Sports
ESPN
Release
Original networkABC
Picture format480i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
Original release
  • First run: March 28, 1993 (1993-03-28)–May 1, 1994 (1994-05-01)
  • Second run: February 6, 2000 (2000-02-06)
 –
June 7, 2004 (2004-06-07)
Chronology
Followed byNHL on NBC
Related showsESPN National Hockey Night

The NHL on ABC is the branding formerly used for broadcasts of National Hockey League (NHL) games televised on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in the United States. The network first broadcast NHL games during the 1992–93 season under a time-buy agreement with ESPN; ABC resumed regular season game telecasts on February 6, 2000, as part of a joint contract with ESPN that also gave ABC the rights to select games from each round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

History[edit]

Before the 1992–93 NHL season[edit]

After being dropped by NBC after the 1974–75 season,[1][2][3] the NHL did not maintain a national television contract in the United States.[4][5][6] In response to this, the league put together a network of independent stations covering approximately 55% of the country.[7][8][9]

Games typically aired on Monday nights[10] (beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time) or Saturday afternoons. The package was offered to local stations without a rights fee.[11] Profits would instead be derived from the advertising, which was about evenly split between the network and the local station. The Monday night games were often billed as "The NHL Game of the Week".[12]

Initially, the Monday night package was marketed to ABC affiliates; the idea being that ABC carried NFL football games on Monday nights in the fall and (starting in May 1976) Major League Baseball games on Monday nights in the spring and summer, stations would want the hockey telecasts to create a year-round Monday night sports block; however, very few ABC stations chose to pick up the package.

In 1979, ABC was contracted to televise Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.[13][14] Since the Finals ended in five games, the contract was void.[15]

It was also around this time that ABC offered the NHL a limited deal that NHL president John Ziegler[16] quickly rejected. ABC wanted to split the network and show the NHL in the Northeast and Midwest and NASCAR in the South on Sunday afternoons.

ABC Radio coverage (1989–1991)[edit]

In 1989,[17] the NHL signed a two-year contract (lasting through the 1990–91 season) with ABC Radio for the broadcast rights to the All-Star Game and Stanley Cup Finals.[18][19] ABC Radio named Don Chevrier and Phil Esposito as their main commentating crew.[20][21][22][23]

Time-buy deal with ESPN (1992–1994)[edit]

In the 1992–93[24] and 1993–94 seasons, ABC televised six[25] weekly regional telecasts[26][27] on Sunday afternoons beginning in March[28] (or the last three Sundays[29] of the regular season). This marked the first time that regular season National Hockey League games were broadcast on American network television[30] since 1974–75 (when NBC was the NHL's American broadcast television partner). ABC would then televise three weeks worth of playoff games[31][32] (or the first three Sundays[33][34] of the playoffs[35][36][37][38]). The network did not televise the Stanley Cup Finals, which instead, were televised nationally by ESPN and by Prime Ticket in Los Angeles (1993) and MSG Network in New York (1994). Games televised on ABC were not subject to blackout.

These broadcasts (just as was the case with the 19992004 package) were essentially, time-buys[39] by ESPN.[40][41] In other words, ABC would sell three-hour blocks of airtime to ESPN[42], which in return, would produce, supply broadcasters and sell advertising. Also as evidence by ABC's Raycom[43] produced college basketball package around the same time period, this arrangement could also be interpreted as a way to avoid union contracts, which require that 100% of network shows had to use crew staff who were network union members.[44] The main difference is that the graphics used for the telecasts were those used by ABC Sports, instead of the ones seen on ESPN National Hockey Night. In later years, the roles would be reversed as ESPN's graphical style would be used on the broadcasts with the exception of intermission reports. ABC even used ESPN's theme music[45] for the 1992–1994 coverage. During ABC's next stint with the NHL, the network used its own theme music.[46]

Overall, ABC averaged a 1.7 rating[47][48][49] for those two seasons.

When the NHL television contract went up for negotiation in early 1994, Fox (which was in the process of launching its sports division after acquiring the rights to the National Football Conference of the NFL) and CBS (which was hoping to land a major sports contract to replace the NFL rights that they lost to Fox and Major League Baseball rights that they lost to ABC and NBC) competed heavily for the package. On September 9, 1994, the National Hockey League reached a five-year, US$155 million contract with Fox for the broadcast television rights to the league's games, beginning with the 1994–95 season,[50] effectively ending ABC's time-buy deal with ESPN after just two seasons.

1992-93[edit]

Playoffs[edit]
Round Series Games covered Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
Division semifinals Pittsburgh vs. New Jersey Games 1, 4 Gary Thorne Bill Clement
Chicago vs. St. Louis Games 1, 4[51] Mike Emrick Jim Schoenfeld
Calgary vs. Los Angeles Games 1, 4 Al Michaels[52][53] John Davidson
Division finals Pittsburgh vs. New York Islanders Game 1[54][55] Gary Thorne[56] Bill Clement
Toronto vs. St. Louis Game 4 Gary Thorne Bill Clement
Vancouver vs. Los Angeles Game 1 Mike Emrick[57] John Davidson
Conference finals Montreal vs. New York Islanders Game 1[58] Gary Thorne Bill Clement

1993-94[edit]

April 17,[70][71] 25,[72] May 1: Playoffs
Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern)
March 27[59][60][61][62][63] Boston at Washington
Detroit at Chicago
New York Rangers at Winnipeg
Los Angeles at Vancouver
1:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m.
April 3[64] Boston at Pittsburgh
Dallas at Washington
St. Louis at Detroit
Edmonton at Los Angeles
1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.
4:00 p.m.
April 10[65][66][67][68] New York Rangers at New York Islanders
[69] Boston at Philadelphia
Los Angeles at Chicago
Dallas at St. Louis
1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m.
Playoffs[edit]
Round Series Games covered Play-by-play Color commentator(s) Ice level reporter(s)
Conference quarterfinals New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders Games 1, 4 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Al Morganti
Dallas vs. St. Louis Games 1, 4[73] Tom Mees Darren Pang (Game 1)
John Davidson (Game 4)
Bob Neumeier (Game 1)
Conference semifinals New Jersey vs. Boston Game 1 Gary Thorne Bill Clement Al Morganti

The NHL returns to ABC (1999–2004)[edit]

In August 1998, ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 signed a five-year television deal with the NHL, worth a total of approximately US$600 million[74][75] (or $120 million per year). The $120 million per year that ABC and ESPN paid for rights dwarfed the $5.5 million that the NHL received from American national broadcasts in the 1991–92 season.[76] As previously mentioned, as was the case with the 19921994 deal, ABC's subsequent NHL coverage was in reality, made up of time–buys from ESPN. This was noted in copyright beds at the conclusion of the telecasts, i.e. "The preceding program has been paid for by ESPN, Inc." ESPN then signed a similar television rights contract in 2002 so it could produce and broadcast National Basketball Association games on ABC.

Regular season[edit]

This time around, ABC televised four to five weeks worth of regional games on Saturday afternoons beginning in January.

1999–2000[edit]

[77]

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
March 18 Pittsburgh at Boston
NY Rangers at Philadelphia
Dallas at Chicago
Detroit at Colorado
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Dave Strader and Jim Schoenfeld
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
March 26 Pittsburgh at Philadelphia
NY Rangers at Detroit
St. Louis at Chicago
Colorado at Dallas
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Dave Strader and Jim Schoenfeld
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
April 1 NY Rangers at Boston
Philadelphia at Pittsburgh
Detroit at St. Louis
Anaheim at Los Angeles
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
6 p.m.
Dave Strader and Jim Schoenfeld
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
April 9 Philadelphia at NY Rangers
St. Louis at Chicago
Phoenix at Dallas
Detroit at Colorado
Los Angeles at Anaheim
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Dave Strader and Jim Schoenfeld
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Dave Ryan and Joe Micheletti
2000-01[edit]
Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
March 10 New Jersey at Philadelphia
Detroit at St. Louis
Colorado at Dallas
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
March 17 NY Rangers at Philadelphia
Detroit at Colorado
San Jose at Los Angeles
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
March 24 Detroit at NY Rangers
Colorado at Boston
Anaheim at Los Angeles
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
6 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
March 31 NY Rangers at New Jersey
Detroit at Philadelphia
St. Louis at Pittsburgh
Colorado at Los Angeles
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Dave Strader and Jim Schoenfeld
April 7 Pittsburgh at Philadelphia
Colorado at Detroit
Dallas at San Jose
NY Rangers at Florida
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Dave Strader and Jim Schoenfeld
2001-02[edit]
Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
January 5 Colorado at Detroit
Pittsburgh at NY Rangers
Washington at Boston
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
January 12 NY Rangers at Philadelphia
St. Louis at Pittsburgh
Dallas at Detroit
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
March 2 Philadelphia at NY Rangers
Detroit at Pittsburgh
Dallas at Colorado
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
March 9 NY Rangers at Pittsburgh
Detroit at St. Louis
Los Angeles at Colorado
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
March 16 Detroit at Boston
NY Rangers at New Jersey
Colorado at Philadelphia
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
Mike Emrick and Barry Melrose
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
2002-03[edit]

[78]

Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
January 11 Colorado at Dallas
Detroit at Philadelphia
NY Rangers at Pittsburgh
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement and John Davidson
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
February 8 Pittsburgh at Boston
Detroit at Colorado
NY Rangers at Philadelphia
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
March 15 Colorado at Detroit
NY Rangers at New Jersey
Philadelphia at Pittsburgh
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
March 22 NY Rangers at Philadelphia
Chicago at Colorado
Detroit at St. Louis
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
March 29 Detroit at St. Louis
NY Rangers at Boston
Phoenix at Colorado
1:30 p.m.
1:30 p.m.
6 p.m.
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
2003-04[edit]
Date Teams Start times (All times Eastern) Commentator crews
January 10 Detroit at Boston
Colorado at Dallas
NY Rangers at NY Islanders
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
1 p.m.
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
February 14 NY Rangers at Philadelphia
Colorado at Detroit
Boston at Chicago
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
March 13 Dallas at Detroit
New Jersey at Philadelphia
Los Angeles at San Jose
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom
March 20 NY Rangers at Philadelphia
St. Louis at Dallas
3 p.m.
3 p.m.
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
March 27 Colorado at Detroit
NY Rangers at Philadelphia
Los Angeles at Calgary
1:30 p.m.
1:30 p.m.
6 p.m.
Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson
Steve Levy and Darren Pang
Mike Emrick and Brian Engblom

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2000-2004[edit]

ABC also televised the National Hockey League All-Star Game[79] and Games 3–7 of the Stanley Cup Finals[80] in prime time. In the league's previous broadcast television deal with Fox, the network split coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals with ESPN. Games 1, 5 and 7 were usually scheduled to be televised by Fox; Games 2, 3, 4 and 6 by ESPN. However, from 1995 to 1998, the Finals were all four-game sweeps; 1999 ended in six games. The consequence was that – except for 1995, when Fox did televise Game 4 – the decisive game was never on network television.

2003 was the only year that ABC broadcast both the NBA and the Stanley Cup Finals that involved teams from one city in the same year, as both the New Jersey Nets and the New Jersey Devils were in their respective league's finals. During ABC's broadcast of Game 3 between the San Antonio Spurs and the Nets in New Jersey on June 8, Brad Nessler, Tom Tolbert and Bill Walton said that ABC was in a unique situation getting ready for both that game and Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Devils and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim the following night, also at Continental Airlines Arena. Gary Thorne, Bill Clement and John Davidson mentioned this the following night, and thanked Nessler, Tolbert and Walton for promoting ABC's broadcast of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.[81]

Following the 2003–04 season, ESPN was only willing to renew its contract for two additional years at $60 million per year.[82] ABC refused to televise the Stanley Cup Finals in prime time, suggesting that the Finals games it would telecast be played on weekend afternoons (including a potential Game 7). Disney executives later conceded that they overpaid for the 1999–2004 deal, so the company's offer to renew the television rights was lower in 2004.[83]

On-air staff[edit]

Studio hosts[edit]

Stanley Cup Finals hosts[edit]

Broadcast teams[edit]

Reporters[edit]

Nielsen ratings[edit]

National Hockey League coverage on ABC owned-and-operated television stations[edit]

Team Stations Years
Philadelphia Flyers WPVI-TV 6 19831986
San Jose Sharks KGO-TV 7 19911994

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Preceded by
NBC
NHL network broadcast partner
(with NBC) in the United States

19921994
Succeeded by
Fox
Preceded by
Fox
NHL network broadcast partner
in the United States

20002004
Succeeded by
NBC