Rough Draft: Changes in TV Coverage for the NHL’s Selection Shows

There will be some changes in how this year’s draft will be covered in North America with the shifting of the Canadian television rights from TSN to Rogers Sportsnet.

What’s New for the 2015 NHL Draft?

TSN won’t have any live coverage of the draft on its five networks due to Sportsnet getting the exclusive broadcast rights.

2015 NHL Draft Logo

Don’t feel too bad for some of the displaced TSN analysts as NBC Sports Network has found a spot for them on their coverage of Friday night’s first round starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. Analysts Darren Dreger, Craig Button and Bob McKenzie will join Liam McHugh and Kathryn Tappen on set.

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American viewers of the draft in previous years enjoyed TSN’s simulcast anchored by James Duthie along with contributions by Button, Dreger, McKenzie and others. This year will see NBCSN produce its own coverage for the first time.

That show will only last one night as NBCSN won’t carry the other six rounds. The later rounds will be on NHL Network, who will pick up the Sportsnet feed.

We’ve already gone over the problems that Rogers has encountered as being the primary carrier of National Hockey League games in Canada. (The criticism has been given a sharp rebuttal by the Canadian broadcaster.) There have been several people who are begging for TSN to carry the draft.

There have even been jokes that Canadian viewers would like to find a way to watch NBCSN.

What’s on Instead of the Draft?

So if NBCSN is not carrying the draft, they must have some sort of live event or big thing to cover instead. A quick look at the TV listings (channel 46 on local service provider listings) does show a live event… of a classic car auction from Denver.

Screenshot of local TV Listings- app
Screenshot of local TV Listings- app

It gets a little better as the channel will show an Indy Racing League’s MAVTV 500. The network does cover the circuit, and I can forgive them for honoring a commitment from someone who provides live content.

The Gold Cup horse race from Santa Anita follows at 8 p.m. and AMA Motorcross follows at 9 p.m., but the draft is usually over by that time.

It would be nice to see NBCSN at least carry some of the second day à la ESPN and ESPN2 do for the NFL Draft, but that’s an issue for NBC because there is no overflow network. Some of the biggest picks in history have come from other than the first round.

The Verdict on the 2015 NHL Draft

I’m sure the NHL Network will welcome the spike in viewers and change in programming. (Lord knows that one gets sick of watching the same replays of games and specials.) However, fans might not like the new coverage of Sportsnet. There were complaints that TSN’s good trade deadline special wasn’t on and the network was replaced by Sportsnet.

2014 NHL Entry Draft Floor [photo: Amy Irvin]
There will be changes in who carries the 2015 NHL Draft. [photo: Amy Irvin]
I know the die-hard fans will watch the draft no matter what channel it’s on, but it would be nice for the draft to be seen in more homes. NBCSN can be seen in over 80 million homes as of Feb. 2015. The NHL Network is on in fewer homes, and the channel is on the upper or specialty tier.

I also feel for Canadian fans as TSN won’t have a competing broadcast. The NFL Draft if covered by separate crews by ESPN, which has multiple crews covering it, and NFL Network. It would be nice to have more perspectives.

One positive is that we won’t get to see tweets like this get out on the air.

This is just another case of how all viewers in North America all still dealing with the changeover from TSN to Rogers.

What do you think? Leave your comments below and enjoy the draft.

Dan Mount is a Nashville Predators staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter, @DanMountSports.