As a result of the NHL’s new television broadcast deals with ABC/Disney and TNT/Turner, knowing your channels and flipping around will never be more important for hockey fans as the change that will start this fall. We now know the Penguins’ schedule for nationally broadcast games.
Common question around the house during hockey season: "What channel is the Penguins game on tonight?"— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) September 17, 2021
We have your answers!
View the Penguins' national broadcast schedule: https://t.co/SjYVMAjBUI pic.twitter.com/x6gdqVIg79
The Pens kick off their season on October 12th in Tampa, a game that will be on ESPN as the first game back for hockey on the “worldwide leader in sports”. However, it will be the only Pittsburgh game on that channel all season.
After football season ends is prime hockey on weekend daytime afternoon parts, and that will happen three times for the Pens February 26th, April 2nd and April 9th on ABC.
The Pens have five games on TNT on December 1st, January 5th, March 23rd, April 10th and April 24th, the latter being more matinee afternoon weekend hockey.
The biggest change for traditional viewers will be the four games that will only be shown on the ESPN+ platform. These games will be streaming only and viewers will need an ESPN+ or Hulu subscription for the games on December 10th, January 6th, April 7th and April 26th. It should come as little surprise that the ESPN+ schedule includes some of the biggest games, featuring the Pens playing their rivals in Washington, Philadelphia, the Rangers and also Edmonton.
Interestingly, both Penguins vs Oilers games will be on national television this year, after the previous NHL broadcasting partner practically ignored putting Connor McDavid in the spotlight on American television, due to playing in a small Canadian market. Overall it looks like the executives at Disney and Turner are more willing to favor the MVP over the city/market he is in, which is a fairly refreshing change.
Turner recently released the names of people who will be giving coverage, and there’s a mix of new and old faces from prior NHL broadcasts. Former Penguin player and assistant coach Rick Tocchet will be in the studio, as will former Penguin player turned podcaster Paul Bissonnette. Turner also got the biggest name possible in hockey with Wayne Gretzky joining them, so if nothing else they won’t lack star power.
ESPN’s coverage team was announced earlier in the summer, with no real Penguin tie-ins besides former Pensburgh podcast guest Kevin Weekes onboard as an analyst.
The times certainly are changing and that will be a wrinkle to get used to as the season goes along. The Pensburgh game previews will have to be on their toes to keep updated and pointing out that night’s channel information, because there has never been a more varied slate of how to consume hockey than the age we are morphing into now.