Discussion in 'The Business of Hockey' started by Stevedude530, Jan 4, 2007.
I agree with everything you just wrote in there.
Although I enjoy Versus' hockey coverage (much better than what we were getting/would have got on ESPN/ESPN2) it is just hurting the sport way too much by not being on a major network.
Most people don't even know Versus exists. Many people don't even get the network. Others don't even know what channel it is. Casual fans I've talked to always ask me "How come I never see any hockey on ESPN anymore?"
But Versus is just a small irrelevant blip on the sports radar and for that reason our sport is being killed. Versus cannot compete with ESPN no matter how much it thinks it can or wants to.
Although ESPN's hockey coverage is much worse and would make me want to shoot myself, I would have to say for the sake of the sport, that it would be better to go back to them.
Of course, the question now is - would ESPN take us back if we crawled pitifully back to it on our hands and knees?
Part of me says to ditch Versus for the sake of the sport.
But the other part of me says to stick with Versus and forget what the majority of the country thinks about us. We'll be the rebels and enjoy our game by ourselves. (Unfortunately not all hockey fans can get Versus to enjoy it though.)
Maybe the NHL could try to go the NBA route and go with split cable rights. Have Versus carry their Monday/Tuesday games....and have ESPN do weekend games.
I would just hope that out of this we could get and NHL highlights show back on TV....although I'm sure if the American version of the NHL Network ever gets off the ground we'll have NHL:On The Fly.
EDIT: I also agree with Trizent below me. Versus did a great job with the playoffs last year (I would have asked for more press conference coverage....but I usually went straight to my computer for the nhl.com feed for them). That's why I think split rights would be a good thing, especially for the playoffs.
You slam VS. for not covering World Jrs. Do you think Spike or FX or USA Network anyone else would cover it? Neither Spike nor FX nor USA would be able to do the blanket NHL Playoffs that VS. did either.
Be careful what you wish for.
The worst part is I could totally see VS choosing not to renew the contract based on ratings, not the NHL. (Or I could be totally off on how the deal works)
I believe both Comcast and the NHL have the right to walk away from the deal at the end of the season. If they agree to go again, it'll be a one season extension.
I don't know if Versus is going to walk away, considering that the NHL does double what they were doing in those time slots ratings wise. And if they are serious about being a sports network....I'm sure they wouldn't want to lose the NHL.
Well, there's always the Home Shopping Network.
"Tonight, right after Santa's Workshop, watch an original six battle as the Toronto Maple Leafs head to Detroit to take on Nik Lidstrom and the Red Wings, right here on the Home Shopping Network, where America loves to shop!"
I belive as small as they have been the NHL has pulled in the best numbers for the network outside of Lance Armstrong's Tour De Fance run........
You write well - I think you are naive in your position but you write it well.
Spike might be the best fit. The UFC is huge and it is also not covered by ESPN.
Totally agree. Cry and moan all you want about VS. people but the fact of the matter is that they have given the best coverage of the NHL south of the boarder ever. Versus was not meant to be the NHL network nor will any other network (Spike, USA, FX..whatever) be regardless of the dreams by many here - its just not realistic. In fact those other networks have much more programming committments than a Versus and chances are you'll see less than what VS. is offering.
I was very happy with them as the cable carrier and their coverage last year of the Stanley Cup playoffs were outstanding.
If the NHL does walk away and go to a different carrier I will be waiting right here for the same people to start in with the same old comments. The bottom line is that the NHL will never generate great ratings....it never has and probably never willl...regardless of network. I am more concerned with the quality of the broadcasts and treatment of the league than I am about ratings.. If the NHL finds a carrier that gets that right (and I think VS. is on the right track) then a gradual but steady ratings increase will result..
All I know is that given the choice between paying for Center Ice and paying for the "top tier" cable package in order to get VS, I'll take Center Ice.
The WJCs has almost nothing to do with the NHL, and won't make a lick of difference in terms of NHL ratings or exposure. The only people interested in watching it outside of Canada are die-hard hockey fans and they already know the NHL is on Versus and are watching it. Complaining about Versus not showing the WJCs is just typical HF mentality, thinking that everyone cares about junior-aged players as much as people on this website do.
from the piece:
"So please ...., NHL -- take your product away from VERSUS. Head to Spike TV, which is in 80 million homes and would get promotion from the UFC and CSI reruns, and be mashed in with a brand that exudes testosterone as much as Dion Phaneuf. Go to the USA Network, where corporate synergy would work with your broadcast partners at NBC. Go to FX, and get Denis Leary to host the intermission report. I'm not saying go back to ESPN, but if you have to, do that. "
I agree 100% with this. The NHL needs to be on BASIC cable service.
(Go to TNT at the start of the week, they already do NBA later in the week...)
Thank you for the praise.
There was nothing to disagree with in there.
Ultimately, my choice is TNT. I don't mind what goes on during intermissions, if I am home, I switch to other games anyways. It was risky to go with OLN/VS, and only time will tell if potentially not going with another network was this crucial, but it's time for damage control.
As for the WJC's, it's not about the NHL, but it is about hockey. No AHL is fine, but no college hockey was not. If VS wasn't going to be a real sports channel, they should be a better hockey channel. There is this whole big pomp and circumstance they put on with the NHL draft when (a) they don't use their own production (which really is fine, I'd rather use TSN because they at least know what they're talking about) and (b) No one knows who anyone is because there is absolutely no exposure to them. People watch the NFL draft because 90% of people who watch the NFL also watch CFB
I would love to see games on TNT, but there is not way they can or will commit to NHL blanket programming needed in April/May/June during NHL Playoffs.
IMO, a good fit would be a deal that would compliment the VS. deal. A game of the week on one of TNT or ESPN(2),etc. perhaps with limited playoff coverage.
Great article, Steve. Fantastic.
Discussing the quality of the announcers, the camera work, or the production quality is fine.
Comparing hockey to other sports is just wasting your time.
NFL people watch the draft because they like the NFL and the draft and there are enough of them to warrant putting it on tv. The network makes money putting it on TV.
The NFL is popular, the NHL is not. The NFL makes money, the NHL doesn't.
Versus can only help out a little bit in helping the NHL but the NHL needs to do most of it themselves - that is a totally different issue though
- How does showing kids playing hockey make Versus money?
- Does showing hockey that is not the best in the world actually draw any fans to the NHL?
- Why aren't you writing this about CBS, CNN, The Christian broadcasting network or Fox news? They have no interest in showing kids playing hockey either.
The only way to show a network you appreciate their effort is to buy the products they are advertising and let the people know why you bought their products. If Versus is advertising Dodge, go buy a Dodge car and let the dealer know why you bought it.
If you don't have money to buy the product, they don't give a crap what you say.
Any promise of believing in hockey or saving hockey is just advertising nonsense. They are there to make money.
Like I said earlier, you write well, I just don't see the point you are making. Hockey is on a crap channel because it is not popular.
Not only that, but the NFL draft includes draftees that many people have watched every weekend in the fall for four+ years. Televising one tournament once a year (probably at great expense) will not somehow equal the exposure people get to college football players. Not to mention, many/most of NFL draftees are expected to have immediate impact on their NFL team the very next season, so people want to see who their team got and hear a lot of discussion about them. Not the case in the NHL at all. If they raised the draft age, this might be less of an issue.
It's also a lot easier to see young players when they're playing in one country and there are nationally televised games several times a week, as opposed to having players scattered all over the world with sometimes very minimal exposure outside of their immediate area.
The NFL and NHL are far too different, especially in terms of where the young talent comes from and how much people can see them before they're drafted, to make any useful comparisons.