As first pointed out by Jared Book of Habs Eye on the Prize, the CBC has posted a schedule of PWHL games and studio show segments which will be streamed online and possibly broadcast on television in Canada:
CBC is prominently featuring the PWHL on its website's navigation bar:
RDS has also indicated that the Ottawa home opener on January 2 (the first game of the season for PWHL Montreal) will be broadcast on their station.
During the Rivalry Series coverage on TSN last evening, the studio hosts frequently referenced the PWHL and discussed team rosters with a focus on Team USA and Team Canada. They also aired two interview segments: one with Team USA forward and PWHL Boston anchor Hilary Knight, and another with PWHL SVP of Hockey Operations, Jayna Hefford. TSN does have a PWHL section on its website, but it doesn't yet indicate any broadcasting or streaming details.
PWHL Advisory Board member Stan Kasten said in November that "most, if not all" games would be available on linear television and that viewers would be able to watch any game via streaming. While the details are starting to get fleshed out for the Canadian side, fans stateside are still wondering what their options are. NHL Network, which is only available as a bundled channel with a cable-style package subscription, has frequently aired a simulcast of TSN's stream for women's hockey events, such as the IIHF Women's Worlds, U18 Women's Worlds, and the Rivalry Series, but that has not been the case for events exclusively broadcast on CBC.
If CBC allows US viewers to watch via CBC Gem, that would be a great option to have, but US viewers aren't allowed to stream CBC Gem through an app and must use the website – which will confine some users to smaller screens. NHL Network simulcasting TSN-aired events would also be a good option to have, but would be limiting in reach due to NHL Network's status as a cable-only channel.
And it would be nice for a US-based broadcast station to take on the mantle of providing "home" coverage for the PWHL's US teams. American forays into women's hockey broadcasting have been almost universally disappointing; for example, NBC's "house style" for sports broadcasting during the Olympics provided a loud, jingoistic experience that set one's teeth on edge. With TSN in particular doing such a good job with broadcasting women's hockey the last couple of years, an American broadcasting team would have a high bar to clear. It will also be interesting to see what team CBC assembles for its planned broadcasts, and how they compare to the TSN coverage we've been seeing at recent IIHF tournaments.
Replica jerseys are available for purchase, though they are not currently customizable with player names and numbers. The jerseys are available in sizes from Youth S to Adult XXL.
A basic line of PWHL-branded clothing is also available via a collaboration with Line Change Apparel. Line Change is operated by Angela Price and Julie Petry, who are married to Carey Price and Jeff Petry, respectively.
Emphasis on "basic." Line Change Apparel offers a lot of sports merch already, and most of it is similarly underwhelming.
Sizing for the PWHL merchandise is limited (unisex apparel goes from sizes XS to XL), and there aren't many visual signifiers to indicate which team a fan might be representing, except for a market abbreviation. And the plain "M" tees for Montreal and Minnesota appear to just be identical pieces of merch:
Line Change has some decent options for team-branded merch on the NHL side, including more extensive sizing. Here's an example of a sweatshirt offered for the Montreal Canadiens:
Why the PWHL is not offering more extended sizing, when Line Change does make merchandise in these sizes, is unclear.
Admittedly, the sports merchandise landscape is pretty bleak right now. Much official team apparel for leagues like the NHL, MLB, NFL, NBA, and WNBA is primarily available through the Fanatics company, which has managed to conduct a significant takeover of sports merchandise market share despite dubious and inconsistent quality. The PWHL is partnering with a smaller, woman-owned company in order to release its first official team merch, and that has some positive PR spin to it, and is in principle better than partnering with a company like Fanatics.
There is certainly room for this sort of minimalist style in sports merch, because it does appeal to some fans. But as a flagship line of team-branded merchandise, the Line Change apparel for the PWHL underwhelms and disappoints, even compared to Line Change's other offerings. The team-specific apparel doesn't even include distinct colorways. (The league apparel at least presents offerings in purple.) The price points for the Line Change apparel are high, but not unheard of in the wild world of licensed team merchandise. Unfortunately, they don't provide much excitement for the new, casual, or dedicated fan. You'd be forgiven for not knowing immediately that any team-branded merchandise has anything to do with the PWHL or any specific team.
By contrast, PWHL athletes themselves wore team apparel during training camp by Royalty, which did have distinct wordmark logos in team colors. As with any league, the players get the best stuff, but it's disappointing to not see this style of wordmark and coloring used on the fan merchandise. You can see the Royalty team gear in action on various PWHL team Instagram feeds. The Royalty company was founded by Carson Fossum, partner of PWHL Minnesota goaltender Maddie Rooney. Rooney also designs women's apparel for Royalty.
Fans certainly needed to calibrate their expectations for PWHL brands and merchandise considering the short timeline for league launch – but even by those adjustments, what we're getting from the PWHL and Line Change feels like a missed opportunity. The next iteration of fan apparel ought to be pretty spectacular so that people can forget this quickly.
Something else that will make people forget this quickly is by releasing full broadcasting details ASAP (not to mention regular season press credentialing information) so that we all know how we're going to watch and cover hockey come January 1.
(Photo: PWHL/Line Change Apparel)