The 2021-22 Edmonton Oilers schedule was announced by Sportsnet, which is the exclusive home to all of the team’s 82 competitions for the upcoming NHL season. The coverage begins with Edmonton’s season opener against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place on October 13th.
There will be 60 regional games on Sportsnet West, with play-by-play calls from Jack Michaels, along with games analyst Louie DeBrusk and reporter Gene Principe.
That leaves only 22 Oilers games among the more than 160 exclusive English-language matchups that Sportsnet will broadcast Canada from coast to coast. Sportsnet’s national NHL coverage consists of Ice hockey night in Canada (who simulcast on CBC), Scotiabank Wednesday night hockey, and Rogers hometown hockey On Monday.
Least televised teams in Canada
The Oilers are associated with their provincial rival Calgary Flames for the fewest games Sportsnet will broadcast nationally of the seven Canadian NHL franchises. The Toronto Maple Leafs lead with half of their schedule, 41 games broadcast across Canada, followed by the Montreal Canadiens (31), the Ottawa Senators (27), the Vancouver Canucks (24) and the Winnipeg Jets (23) .
Why more Oilers games aren’t being broadcast to a wider Canadian audience is a bit of a mystery. Edmonton has the greatest player in the world, Connor McDavid, and another in the top 5, Leon Draisaitl, both of whom are capable of highlight reel moves at any time. The Oilers are a fast-paced team that generate a lot of offensive and are expected to be among the top teams in the overall standings. They are skillful, talented, exciting, entertaining, and fun. In short, the Oilers are everything anyone wants to see.
Demographics don’t always go together
It makes sense that Toronto and Montreal have the most national broadcasts. They are present in Canada’s two largest markets and also have the largest following outside of the market. One look at all the Leaves and Habs jerseys in the stands when these teams visit another city says it all about the Canadian popularity of the Original Six franchises.
Vancouver has the largest population center in the country, but this is followed by Calgary and Edmonton. No other center in Canada has more than one million inhabitants according to the 2016 census. And based on the orange and blue that littered spectators on ice rinks across Canada, the Oilers can be assumed to be the third most popular NHL club in the country. Edmonton’s 1980s Dynasty teams with Wayne Gretzky and a cast of future Hall of Famers fired the imagination of a generation, and those fans have stayed loyal to the Oilers and passed that love on to today’s generation, including McDavid and Draisaitl. adored.
Oilers star in the US on TNT
Sportsnet announced the Oilers’ schedule shortly after Turner Sports revealed the schedule for its first season of NHL coverage, which will feature the Oilers on TNT six times nationwide in the United States. That’s the best of any team.
As part of a new seven-year national broadcast contract, TNT will air 50 games during the 2021-22 season, with broadcasts every Wednesday evening starting October 13 and Sunday afternoons in March and April. The NHL also has a seven-year agreement with The Walt Disney Company to broadcast games on ESPN and ABC.
These are monumental partnerships for the NHL looking to grow and reach new audiences in the United States. Turner’s award-winning National Basketball Association coverage is widely regarded as the standard bearer in sports broadcast and was instrumental in the NBA’s explosive popularity over the last generation. Turner gives everything for his NHL coverage and brings Gretzky on board as a senior studio analyst.
Suffice it to say that they know what they do at Turner Sports, which is why it speaks volumes that the Oilers will be the most watched team on TNT, especially when you consider that Canadian markets are not included in ratings on the American network. For example, a game with the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks brings in built-in spectators from two metropolitan areas; playing with the Oilers and LA effectively halves the potential audience in the market. Because of this, the Toronto Raptors rarely grace turner screens even at the height of the Vince Carter superstar in the early 2000s or when they were NBA championships a few years ago.
Even so, Turner sees the ratings gold when he spends half a dozen nights at prime time for an American-only audience, almost twice as often (3.4) as the average of the 25 American teams in the league appear on TNT. In contrast, the other six Canadian teams will appear on average 28 times on a national Sportsnet program in 2021-22, half a dozen times more than the Oilers.
Of course, Oil Country residents don’t have to worry. You will be able to watch the Oilers every second this season. Fans outside of the area can only hope their favorite team will go on a Stanley Cup run that will result in nationwide coverage in Canada in the years to come.
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, covering the championship season of the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup.