Terms of the dealEdit
Taking over for ESPN, SportsChannel's contract paid $51 million ($17 million per year) over three years, more than double what ESPN had paid ($24 million) for the previous three years SportsChannel America managed to get a fourth NHL season for just $5 million.
Unfortunately, SportsChannel America was only available in a few major markets, and reached only a 1/3 of the households that ESPN did at the time. SportsChannel America was seen in fewer than 10 million households. In comparison, by the 1991–92 season, ESPN was available in 60.5 million homes whereas SportsChannel America was available in only 25 million. As a matter of fact, in the first year of the deal (1988–89), SportsChannel America was available in only 7 million homes when compared to ESPN's reach of 50 million. When the SportsChannel deal ended in 1992, the league returned to ESPN for another contract that would pay $80 million over 5 years.
SportsChannel America took advantage of using their regional sports networks' feed of a game, graphics and all, instead of producing a show from the ground up, most of the time. Distribution of SportsChannel America across the country was limited to cities that had a SportsChannel regional sports network or affiliate. Very few cable systems in non-NHL territories picked it up as a stand alone service. Regional affiliates of the Prime Network would sometimes pick up SportsChannel broadcasts, but this was often only during the playoffs. SportsChannel America also did not broadcast 24 hours a day at first, usually on by 6 p.m., off by 1 or 2 a.m., then a sportsticker for the next 16 hours.
Since SportsChannel Philadelphia did not air until January 1990, PRISM (owned by Rainbow Media, the owners of SportsChannel, at the time) picked up the 1989 Stanley Cup Finals. Other than that, there was no NHL television coverage in Philadelphia except for the Flyers for the first half of the original deal.
Shortly after the ESPN deal was signed, SportsChannel America would contend that its contract with the NHL gave them the right to match third-party offers for television rights for the 1992–93 season. SportsChannel America accused the NHL of violating a nonbinding clause. SportsChannel America argued that it had been deprived of its contractual right of first refusal] for the 1992–93 season. Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court justice Shirley Fingerwood would deny SportsChannel America's request for an injunction against the NHL. Upholding that opinion, the appellate court found the agreement on which SportsChannel based its argument to be "too imprecise and ambiguous" and ruled that SportsChannel failed to show irreparable harm.
Regular season coverageEdit
SportsChannel America would televise about 80–100 games a season (whereas ESPN aired about 33 in from 1985–88). Whereas the previous deal with ESPN called for only one nationally televised game/week, SportsChannel America televised hockey two nights/week in NHL cities and three nights a week elsewhere.
It was very rare to have a regular-season game on SportsChannel America that wasn't a regional SportsChannel production from the Chicago Blackhawks, Hartford Whalers, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, or Philadelphia Flyers. The San Jose Sharks were added in 1991–92. As previously suggested, SportsChannel America for the most part, used the local telecasts. The dedicated SportsChannel America station was little more than an overflow channel in the New York area for SportsChannel New York.
In September 1989, SportsChannel America covered the Washington Capitals training camp in Sweden and pre-season tour of the Soviet Union. The Capitals were joined by the Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames, who held training camp in Prague, Czechoslovakia and then ventured to the Soviet Union. Each team played four games against Soviet League clubs. Games were played in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev and Riga. The NHL clubs finished with a combined 6–2 record against the top Soviet teams, including the Red Army club and Dynamo Moscow. 5 of 8 contests were televised by SportsChannel America.
All-Star Game coverageEdit
SportsChannel America was the exclusive broadcaster of the 1989 All-Star Game. The following year, they covered the first ever NHL Skills Competition and Heroes of Hockey game. SportsChannel America would continue their coverage of these particular events through 1992. In 1991, SportsChannel America replayed the third period of the All-Star Game on the same day that it was played. That was because NBC broke away from the live telecast during the 3rd period in favor of Gulf War coverage.
Playoff broadcast anomalies Edit
Taped delayed playoff broadcasts Edit
Main article: Broadcast delay
|1989||Divisional semifinals||Montreal-Hartford||Games 1–4||Rick Peckham||Gerry Cheevers|
|Boston-Buffalo||Game 5||Rick Peckham||Gerry Cheevers|
|Divisional finals||Pittsburgh-Philadelphia||Games 1–5||Mike Emrick||Bill Clement|
|1990||Divisional semifinals||Boston-Hartford||Games 1, 3, 5||Rick Peckham||Gerry Cheevers|
|NY Rangers-NY Islanders||Games 2, 4||Jiggs McDonald||Ed Westfall|
|Divisional finals||Boston-Montreal||Games 1–2||Mike Emrick||Bill Clement|
|NY Rangers-Washington||Games 3–5||Rick Peckham||Dave Maloney|
|1991||Divisional semifinals||Boston-Hartford||Games 1–6||Rick Peckham||Gerry Cheevers|
|Divisional finals||Pittsburgh-Washington||Games 1–5||Rick Peckham||Gerry Cheevers|
|1992||Divisional semifinals||Montreal-Hartford||Games 1–7||Rick Peckham||Gerry Cheevers|
|Divisional finals||Montreal-Boston||Games 2–4 (CBC's feed)||Bob Cole||John Garrett and Dick Irvin, Jr.|
Playoff broadcasts that were joined in progress Edit
|Year||Round||Teams||Games||Play-by-play||Color commentators||Ice level reporters|
|1990||Divisional semifinals||Calgary-Los Angeles||Games 5–6||Mike Emrick||Bill Clement|
|Divisional finals||Edmonton-Los Angeles||Games 1–4||Jiggs McDonald||Ed Westfall|
|1991||Divisional semifinals||Los Angeles-Vancouver||Games 1–2, 5–6||Jiggs McDonald||Ed Westfall|
|Calgary-Edmonton||Game 7||Pat Foley||Dale Tallon|
|Divisional finals||Los Angeles-Edmonton||Games 1–6||Pat Foley||Dale Tallon|
|1992||Divisional semifinals||Los Angeles-Edmonton||Games 3–4, 6 (CBC's feed)||Don Wittman||Jim Peplinski||Steve Armitage|
|Divisional finals||New York Rangers-Pittsburgh||Game 1||Jiggs McDonald||Ed Westfall|
|Montreal-Boston||Game 1 (CBC's feed)||Bob Cole||John Garrett and Dick Irvin, Jr.|
|Vancouver-Edmonton||Games 3–4 (CBC's feed)||Chris Cuthbert||Harry Neale||Steve Armitage|
A fair amount of times in their first season, they would use their own production services for games. But very rarely would this sort of practice occur in the last three seasons. Since programming was so sparse otherwise SportsChannel America, usually the games were replayed immediately following the live telecast.
For playoff coverage, if any of the aforementioned teams made the playoffs, SportsChannel America would focus on those teams, using their facilities. For the Stanley Cup Finals, SportsChannel America would use their own facilities. They would also use their own facilities for any Conference Final series that did not involve one of SportsChannel's regional teams.
John Shannon was the senior producer of The NHL on SportsChannel America.
Bob Papa and Leandra Reilly were the studio hosts during the regular season coverage. For the Stanley Cup Finals, Jiggs McDonald served as the play-by-play man while Bill Clement was the color commentator. Also during the Stanley Cup Finals, Mike Emrick served as the host while John Davidson served as the rinkside and intermission analyst (Herb Brooks filled that role in 1989).
- Mike Emrick
- Pat Foley
- Jiggs McDonald
- Rick Peckham
- Gary Thorne
- Randy Hahn
- Steve Grad
- Dave Hodge
- Ken Wilson
- John Kelly
- Jeff Rimer
Color commentators Edit
- Bill Clement
- Dale Tallon
- Ed Westfall
- John Davidson
- Herb Brooks
- Gerry Cheevers
- Dave Maloney
- Peter McNab
- Pete Stemkowski
- Don Edwards
- Bruce Affleck
Ice level personalities Edit
Studio personalities Edit
Commentating crews Edit
- Chicago Blackhawks: Pat Foley and Dale Tallon (in 1991–92, SportsChannel America rode them all the way through the Stanley Cup Finals)
- Hartford Whalers: Rick Peckham and Gerry Cheevers
- New York Islanders: Jiggs McDonald and Ed Westfall
- New Jersey Devils: Jiggs McDonald or Gary Thorne and Peter McNab
- Philadelphia Flyers: Mike Emrick and Bill Clement
- San Jose Sharks: Randy Hahn and Pete Stemkowski
Chicago Blackhawks seasonsEdit
- 1988–89 Chicago Blackhawks season
- 1989–90 Chicago Blackhawks season
- 1990–91 Chicago Blackhawks season
- 1991–92 Chicago Blackhawks season
Hartford Whalers seasonsEdit
- 1988–89 Hartford Whalers season
- 1989–90 Hartford Whalers season
- 1990–91 Hartford Whalers season
- 1991–92 Hartford Whalers season
New York Islanders seasonsEdit
- 1988–89 New York Islanders season
- 1989–90 New York Islanders season
- 1990–91 New York Islanders season
- 1991–92 New York Islanders season
New Jersey Devils seasonsEdit
- 1988–89 New Jersey Devils season
- 1989–90 New Jersey Devils season
- 1990–91 New Jersey Devils season
- 1991–92 New Jersey Devils season
San Jose Sharks seasonsEdit
Conference Finals broadcasters Edit
Prince of Wales Conference Edit
|1989||Montreal-Philadelphia||Mike Emrick||Bill Clement|
|1990||Boston-Washington||Jiggs McDonald||Bill Clement|
|1991||Boston-Pittsburgh||Jiggs McDonald||John Davidson|
|1992||Pittsburgh-Boston||Jiggs McDonald||Bill Clement|
Western Conference Edit
|1989||Calgary-Chicago||Jiggs McDonald||Herb Brooks|
|1990||Edmonton-Chicago||Pat Foley||Dale Tallon|
|1991||Edmonton-Minnesota||Mike Emrick||Bill Clement|
|1992||Chicago-Edmonton||Pat Foley||Dale Tallon|
See also Edit
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