CBC puts all hockey online

All 85 NHL games due this season on the Ceeb will be streamed for free. TSN, meanwhile, has upped its coverage of Canadian games and of Penguins star Sidney Crosby.

CBC and TSN are boasting an increased number of games for the coming NHL season, which will see Hockey Night in Canada streaming all of its matches online when the 2007/08 action gets underway next month. CBC’s Internet streaming rights is part of its new six-year contract deal reached with the NHL in April. The sportscasters revealed the details of their 2007/08 plans this week.

‘You can be a fan anywhere in this country and watch any game that we’re broadcasting . . . Nowadays, computer screens are just as big as television screens, so you can watch online and it’s free,’ explains newly appointed HNIC XP Sherali Najak.

The Ceeb has upped its number of games to 85 from 81 for the season, which gets underway with a special opening game broadcast from London, England, on Sept. 29, featuring Stanley Cup champions the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. The event is to celebrate the NHL’s 90th anniversary in the birthplace of the Stanley Cup.

The pubcaster’s schedule shows an increased number of Saturday afternoon games that will predominantly feature the Ottawa Senators, but will also include Montreal and Edmonton. ‘It allows us to showcase the Senators to a national and not just a regional audience, giving us an opportunity to grow their viewership,’ says Najak. The marquee franchise Toronto Maple Leafs will continue to headline HNIC on Saturdays at 7 pm. TSN, meanwhile, will televise 70 NHL games this season including 40 featuring Canadian teams, up from 36 last year.

TSN VP of news and NHL Mark Milliere says they’re happy to have more Canadian match-ups that add ‘strength’ to their schedule. But he says the channel’s 13 games featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins and Canadian superstar Sidney Crosby (pictured) is a real highlight on the sked.

‘The viewer interest in Sidney and the Penguins is very high. You can compare that team to the Oilers in the early 80s. They’re fun to watch, they’re young, they’re dynamic, and so having a lot of Penguins games in our schedule is going to be a real bonus for us,’ says Milliere.

Montreal leads the Canadian contingent of NHL games on TSN with 13, followed by seven Toronto games and six games each for Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton. Vancouver will be seen five times. TSN will cover the first three rounds of the playoffs, featuring all-American match-ups. It currently does not air playoff games involving Canadian teams, but may get the opportunity when it signs a new contract with the NHL. TSN, which is in the last year of a five-year deal, is currently renegotiating its package with the league. A spokesperson says they will also pursue online streaming rights.

This story first appeared in Playback Daily.