Following this morning's news that NESN would be broadcasting this Sunday's Boston Pride home opener, the NWHL announced this afternoon that they have established their first-ever television broadcast deal with the network.
"The broadcast value of the women’s game has never been better, and we’re happy NESN is providing a stage for and shining a spotlight on some of the best players in the world," said NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan.
"This is a great opportunity for women’s hockey to reach the four million viewers in NESN’s coverage area. Harvard Athletics and the staff at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center deserve a big thank you for their support of this deal.”
NESN will be airing the following eight games LIVE on your TV!
- 11/22 vs. New York Riveters 3PM (ET) – NESN
- 11/29 vs. Connecticut Whale 3PM (ET) – NESN
- 12/6 vs. New York Riveters 3:30PM (ET) – NESN
- 12/20 vs. Buffalo Beauts 3PM (ET) – NESNplus
- 1/3 vs. Buffalo Beauts 3PM (ET) – NESNplus
- 1/10 vs. New York Riveters 3PM (ET) – NESNplus
- 1/17 vs. Connecticut Whale 3PM (ET) – NESNplus
- 2/14 vs. Connecticut Whale 3PM (ET) – NESNplus (Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all!)
According to the news release by the league, these games will still be broadcast online via Cross Ice Pass on YouTube “for fans living outside the New England area.” While this holds the implication that these games will be blacked out, we will see what that really means.
This is a Big Deal. Aside from international events like the Olympics, this will be the first time women’s hockey will be easily and readily available for a casual fan to stumble upon and watch. The 2014 gold medal game between Team USA and Canada drew 4.9 million viewers, the highest viewership since 2002, when the final aired during the primetime slot. Many of the same players who featured in that 2014 final will now be on your TV almost every Sunday.
Hats off to NESN for taking the plunge with this deal and here’s to hoping that networks in Connecticut and New York join them.