USA Network to Air NHL Playoff Games

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

The U.S. cable network will broadcast overflow games as live sports returns to its schedule.

USA Network will this month start airing NHL playoff games for the first time in 30 years.

The move back to live sports comes as NBC Sports on Wednesday unveiled coverage plans for the upcoming NHL playoffs and Stanley Cup Final. USA, which already broadcasts WWE TV wrestling shows on its schedule, last aired NHL games in 1985, before ESPN took over in the U.S. cable market.

Beginning April 15, The NBCUniversal cable channel will air playoff games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, as needed. Adding USA to the mix for NBC Sports' multichannel coverage of the NHL underlines the growing role of TV sports to drive cable revenues.

“In today’s competitive TV landscape, live sports continue to be an invaluable part of the programming mix, attracting a large audience and serving as a powerful promotional platform,” USA Network president Chris McCumber said in a statement.

NBC Sports' deal with the NHL will see USA join NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC and NHL Network to carry all playoff games through June. CNBC started offering NHL playoff coverage in 2012.