OLN Catching NHL Playoff Fever


National Hockey League fans should be prepared to get checked into the boards -- repeatedly -- by OLN's coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Comcast Corp.-owned network -- which inked a two-season, $135 million deal with the NHL last August -- will air up to 54 playoff contests, depending on the length of series.

The NHL's exclusive national cable carrier will face off its coverage April 21 and culminate with the first two Stanley Cup Finals match-ups. At that stage, NBC will telecast the remainder of the championship series.

In addition to coverage of the 16-team tournament, OLN -- currently skating with a marketing campaign entitled "The Quest for the Cup" -- will add hockey-themed programming like documentaries, classic games and original series. The network’s Web site (www.olntv.com) will supply plenty of extras from April 21-June 7 when it adopts the moniker, "Hockey Central."

With the start of the playoffs, OLN executives are planning to feature approximately six hours of hockey content each weeknight, encompassing one or two playoff games, as well as a studio wrap-up show. NBC will carry weekend coverage of the playoffs. In total, OLN will present more than 260 hours of hockey and hockey-themed content.

"Each night, we are turning over our network to the hockey fan," OLN president Gavin Harvey said in a prepared statement. "This is what we do: We superserve the fan and immerse them in the sport. Between our excellent game coverage and our bonus programming, fans will be able to come to OLN to live and breathe hockey throughout the NHL playoffs."

All told, OLN anticipates that the conference quarterfinal and semifinal rounds will yield 15 -20 games apiece, while conference-finals coverage will span 7-12 games, from May 19-June 2.

On the HD front, OLN plans to offer one series in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds in the enhanced format. Both conference-finals series and its Stanley Cup Finals contests June 5 and 7 will be filmed in HD.

OLN executives said that throughout the playoffs, the network, when feasible, will simulcast games from Canadian networks and domestic regional sports networks covering the playoffs, giving hockey fans additional access.

Each night OLN features a playoff matchup, the network will deliver a condensed highlight version of the game that will be distributed via its video-on-demand platform.