Monday, October 1, 2012

BTN to Carry January 26th PSU-MSU Game

Penn State hockey will likely make its first-ever national television appearance on January 26th when the Nittany Lions travel to future Big Ten rival Michigan State's Munn Ice Arena. The game will be aired on Big Ten Network at 6:05 p.m., a shift from the game's original 7:00 start time.

The full BTN schedule has not been released yet, so there's at least a chance that PSU's series at Wisconsin on February 24th and 25th will make it to the network, although this news almost certainly reduces the likelihood of that possibility. It's improbable that any other games make it to the big stage, although several are likely to be carried by the local outlets of opponents.

Regardless, Michigan State represents an exciting opponent for a first BTN go, one that made it to the NCAA Tournament last season under then first-year coach Tom Anastos. The Spartans are a historical giant of college hockey, a legacy that includes three national championships, nine Frozen Four appearances and 25 conference regular season or tournament titles. For 2012-2013, MSU loses three NHL draft picks and superstar defenseman Torey Krug, who signed with the Boston Bruins. However, goalie Will Yanakeff is good enough to get a young team through some early growing pains. A talented recruiting class, including Shattuck-St. Mary's product John Draeger on defense, should find its legs by the time PSU rolls into East Lansing.

Contrary to what might be popular belief, this won't be Penn State hockey's first time on any sort of television. The Icers made a smattering of local TV appearances, including as far back as the 1973-1974 season.

Response from national broadcasters to the new NCAA program has been somewhat tepid so far, as both NBC Sports and CBS Sports passed on the Nittany Lions when releasing their schedules. It's unfortunate but somewhat understandable, as the novelty of a "new" team and Penn State's brand name has been outweighed by the unknown quality of the team and the "let's wait until next year when the arena's done" factor.

Speaking of next year, the Big Ten Network is expected to be a much larger presence for PSU hockey at that point, since it marks the inaugural season of the conference sponsoring hockey. One has to imagine that a majority of Nittany Lion games will be either on television or on the BTN's digital platform from that point.

Beyond the Saturday at Michigan State and for this season, PSU fans (and bloggers) will probably have to rely heavily on a not-yet-announced online streaming arrangement (better get on that guys, season starts in 11 days) as well as the streaming arrangements made by opponents for away games.


  1. Given the poor lighting at home, I'm guessing that the majority will be on Penn State All Access (the Big Ten Digital Network) since no other rights deal exists. Since BTN is all HD, the support of good quality picture is important.

    1. Thanks for the insight! I agree and really don't expect to see any other PSU games on TV this season that average PSU fans can access. Like I said in the post, BTN got their "hey look, Penn State has NCAA hockey now" game out of the way with this one, so I don't think it's very likely PSU-UW gets picked up. And it's my understanding that BTN only does hockey games originating from Big Ten schools. Meaning if the Ice Pavilion's out, then this is probably it for national TV. They're only doing about 15 games total this year (I think I counted 12 with Minnesota, OSU, Michigan, MSU all out there now), so that's fine with me.

      I know RIT and Union have local broadcasts, and obviously the Friday MSU game will be locally broadcast as well. Which kind of sucks if you're not in those areas because it will likely mean no streaming.

      Kind of funny that overall, we might be taking a step back in terms of ability to watch games. That's mostly a testament to the unreal job Steve and Barb Penstone have done with things.

    2. You're very welcome. BTN's hockey coverage has been relatively small for a few reasons, mostly pertaining to the lack of a BTHC, since they only had access to games involving B1G schools due to the structure of CCHA and WCHA TV rights deals. The other factor is that since the coverage was so unpredictably on BTN it got low ratings even in places like MN and WI. I think next year a lot of this is addressed in the future. BTN is working with the BTHC schools on a comprehensive TV package (no details whatsoever, but the coaches have spent time with the network and it's something that they [both sides] want to happen). I do think that there will be supplemental offerings for coverage based on school due to the fact that BTN is actually producing a lot of live events. I wouldn't be surprised if BTN started making it possible for schools to produce 2 events at once using their HD "Flight Packs". Add to that the fact that all of the arenas will be set up for HD TV coverage allowing for high quality streaming as a backup plan.

      For games without any TV coverage ustream would still be an option. It was pretty amazing the job that they did in the past.