NBC’s Subliminal Advertising Shows Which Teams You Should Care About

There is an East Coast Bias in the NHL.

Mainstream media members scoff at the notion that they are swayed by local teams, yet they routinely admit that they don’t get to see as many Western Conference games in the regular season due to the time difference and fewer games being broadcast on a national level.

In fact, in 2013, a season in which there were no inter-conference games, this is how the MVP vote shook out:

I guess GameCenter does cost too much.

This vote total was despite, record wise, five of the top eight teams playing in the Western Conference.

In 2013-14, the Western Conference superiority continues, as currently six of the top eight teams are in either in the Pacific or Central Division.

Pretty impressive.

But then again, according to the NHL, the regular season really doesn’t mean much.

See ya, 82-game season!

So, which teams would the NHL choose to promote once its “real” season begins?

Would it be skewed toward the conference that has won five championships since the 2004-05 lockout and boasts 11 of the past 17 Stanley Cup winners, or the conference that has “rivalries.”

Yes, we all know the answer. But how much are NBC and the NHL pushing the narrative?

In their new ad campaign for the 2014 NHL playoffs, NBC created three 30-second commercials promoting different aspects of winning in the postseason.

These three ads are built around “Grinders,” “Goalies” and the aptly named “One Goal.”

Removing the final nine seconds of each commercial, which is just text and doesn’t feature any teams, we’re left with 63 seconds of video and still images of what NBC considers important to promote ahead of the start of the playoffs.

Packed into these 63 seconds are over 70 clips and pictures that aim to show viewers what to expect during the two months of playoff action.

Of these various clips, there is obviously overlap as multiple teams will be shown in the same scene. I counted each instance that a player from his respective team is shown and then further broke it down by “positive” and “negative” occurrences. “Positive” meaning a player or team was shown in an image or in a clip scoring a goal, making a save, initiating a big hit, etc., and a “negative” is a player or team involved in the other side of the same clip.

Let’s see the breakdown on each NBC advertisement:


I’m not entire sure you know what that word means, NBC.

Looks pretty even so far! Boston and Anaheim get the NBC Grinder love. No word on their Tinder love, yet.


Man, Marc-Andre Fleury must be really good!

Now we start to see the separation of conferences.

Of the 25 different clips and images, 16 were allocated for Eastern Conference teams. You know, the “defensive” conference.

And in the negative column, the East takes 10 of 13 instances. While labeled “negative,” this demonstrates that NBC is promoting games between Eastern Conference opponents.

One Goal

Alright, that was pretty good.

The “One Goal” campaign appears to be NBC’s real push toward the Stanley Cup Final.

This makes its all the more interesting that Western Conference contenders like the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche are not included in any of the footage. Instead, viewers are left watching clips of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators, all of which are outside the playoff picture.


See how every team stacks up and read into the results however you’d like. …just rest assured, Calgary, Nashville and Winnipeg fans, NBC and the NHL hate your teams and they probably hate you too.

In total, the Eastern Conference racks up 61 percent of the of the clips and images.

The reigning conference champs each get 11 appearances apiece, but the President’s Trophy-leading St. Louis Blues were only given one measly clip in the three commercials.

But I guess that should be expected from a network and league that aired 19 Philadelphia Flyers games on NBC and NBC Sports during the regular season. By contrast, the Anaheim Ducks, LA Kings and San Jose Sharks amassed 19 total appearances on the respective channels.

Then again, the Flyers were just as absent in the commercials as the Blues.

So what does it all mean?

Not much really. It just could be used to reinforce what West Coast fans have already perceived over the years.

At least they can take solace in knowing that it isn’t all in their heads and that all of the Stanley Cup wins and West Coast rivalries won’t change a thing as long as the NHL and NBC continue to be an East Coast operation.

It’s just a shame that this appears to be another moment where a league that says it wants to grow the sport continues to put the superior conference on the back burner.

PumperNicholl is a lifelong LA Kings fan and actually learned how to speak English from Bob Miller by watching LA Kings games… and the Police Academy movies. You should probably follow PumperNicholl on Twitter @pumpernicholl