For NBC, Cup playoffs about games, not names
Executive producer Sam Flood, a Williams grad, is more focused on showcasing the product.
There's no Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin or Detroit Red Wings in this year's Stanley Cup Final. To the people at NBC Sports and Versus, that's not as big a deal as one might think.
Ratings are up for the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoff games on the two networks. But according to NBC/Versus executive producer Sam Flood, it's about the games and not the numbers.
"We as producers and talent don't worry about ratings. We worry about telling stories and showcasing hockey," Flood said. "If we do that well, people are going to come. If the product is exciting and dramatic on the ice, people are going to come."
Flood, a former Williams College hockey player, has been NBC's producer of NHL coverage, and took command of the Versus broadcasts after the Comcast/NBC merger this year.
He is putting the finishing touches on the two networks' coverage of the Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks.
"We really do believe that it's a growth opportunity," Flood continued. "We have to let the games speak for themselves and the ratings will build from there."
According to an NBC release, Game 7 between Boston and Tampa Bay averaged 2.55 million viewers and was the most watched conference final game in network history. Viewership peaked at 3.25 million from 10 until 10:30 p.m.
Flood was joined by NBC/Versus analysts Eddie Olczyk and Jeremy Roenick for a media conference call the day before the start of the Final series in Vancouver.
"Being a player and being recently out of the game, one thing that NBC and Versus is going to do, which is very important is that there are so many unbelievable hockey players in the National Hockey League," Roenick said. "For us to display different talents and different personalities. Yeah, it's good to have the Crosbys, the Ovechkins and Detroits in there. The more we can educate people as to how good the NHL is with their total mass of abilities -- and each game, there's going to be a different hero."
Versus will have a 30-minute pregame show before the 8 p.m. face offs for the seven games. Versus' Liam McHugh will anchor the first two games and Bill Patrick games 3-4. If the series goes to Game 5, Dan Patrick will join NBC to anchor the pre- and postgame coverage. They'll be augmented by Mike Millbury, Keith Jones, Roenick and Darren Pang.
As far as the technical aspects of the broadcasts, Flood said NBC/Versus will have more than the usual amount of toys to use. The American broadcast will share some equipment with the Canadian English-language broadcaster CBC and French-language RDS. There will be some cameras that Flood said his broadcast doesn't usually have.
There will be more than 25 paths of video coming into the NBC/Versus control truck. In addition, players will be miked for audio and there will be replays galore.
"The NBC Sports Group philosophy is more about telling a story and showcasing a game, and the technology takes care of itself," Flood said. "We're not going to get in the way of the game. We'll let the game be the star."
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