A long overdue bit of news came down on Tuesday as the NWHL and NBC Sports announced that NBCSN would exclusively broadcast the 2021 Isobel Cup Semifinals and Finals in February. The NWHL will play an abbreviated season inside a bubble in Lake Placid, New York with all six teams competing. The Semifinals will take place on February 4th, with the Championship Game on February 5th.
“Our partnership with NBC Sports is monumental for the visibility of the NWHL,” new NWHL commissioner Tyler Tumminia said in a press release on Tuesday. “Never before has women’s professional hockey had the opportunity to reach so many people on American television in the United States. As we have seen with the WNBA and NWSL this year when women’s major league sports leagues are given a strong showcase, viewership is increased and countless new fans connect with the teams and players.”
Quite frankly, this is a historic moment for women’s hockey in the United States. It marks the first time that the women’s professional game will be on a major network, and gives exposure to a sport that usually only gets it during the Olympic Games every four years.
NBC and NBCSN are no strangers to broadcasting hockey. NBC has had rights to the NHL since the 2005-06 season, and are looking to extend those past the expiration of their current contract this summer. With NBC and NBCSN now finally dipping their toes into the women’s game, perhaps a bigger opportunity awaits in the 2021-22 season.
NBC is certainly approaching this as an opportunity to showcase some outstanding women’s hockey and continue the efforts of growing the game.
“As the home of hockey in the U.S., NBC Sports is proud to showcase the NWHL to a national audience,” said Michael Perman, vice president, programming, NBC Sports. “These historic broadcasts on NBCSN further our commitment to showcasing the game at all levels.”
The NWHL bubble will begin on January 23rd.