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Looking at Spotted’s Sunday Midseason Matchups, it struck me how NBC tosses away its monster number of football fans as soon as February rolls around. Dateline and The Celebrity Apprentice aren’t the kind of shows that attract the beer-drinking crowd.

Enter the NHL. The cable channel Versus gets relaunched tomorrow as NBC Sports, and its crown jewel is the NHL, as other sports have proven difficult to pry away from ESPN, CBS, TNT, and FOX. NBC Sports and the NHL need each other. Wouldn’t it make sense to give the NHL a Sunday night platform on NBC to help build all three brands simultaneously? It wouldn’t be difficult for the NHL to add a national game with two good teams on Sunday nights, nor would it be an expensive acquisition for NBC.

If nothing else, it would free up The Celebrity Apprentice to move to one of NBC’s other problem nights, such as Mondays in the Fall. Two hours a week could cover up a lot of hurt in NBC’s schedule.

NBC has Sunday Night Football locked up for another 9 seasons. There’s no reason to continue sacrificing most Sunday nights to short seasons and Dateline.

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