Thought to have another hockey post during the 1st round, but this TV related. For those who read the blog during the Olympics remember I commented quite a bit then about TV coverage and the like.
News that NHL signed a new deal in the US. 10 years with Comcast/NBC worth $2 Billion. First thought, that is WAY too long of a deal. A decade at anytime is a fair chunk of time. With technology today it’s even moreso. 2001 I didn’t have HDTV. Facebook and Twitter hadn’t been created yet. Idea of being able to watch video on a cell phone was crazy. Even trying to watch video online was a chore.
Some articles saying it’s a big win in the first battle of ESPN vs Comcast. Guess they forgot the ‘right to match’ part. Then it’s not an even playing field. Which was a problem. Even if the NHL wanted to go to ESPN it was out of their hands. Not smart whoever let that in a TV contract. With the merger that has Comcast/NBC/Universal under one umbrella they were not going to let something get away that they could overpay for and keep. No matter what someone else offered they could match. So it’s a “win” on a technicality.
Being in Canada I did catch some of Versus’ coverage of the NHL at start of the season. For those overseas regular season games TSN just picked up the Versus feed. Quite bad. Not a channel that just got the NHL rights last year either. Years of doing it and still not good coverage? Insane. Those reading in Canada, Versus is what OLN [Outdoor Life Network] became in America. So NHL hockey along with fishing, yachting and bike racing. Not the most high profile sports.
Games aired on NBC are much better of course. Should be with the big guns they have on air and the production side. With the Comcast/NBC merger hopefully the Versus side will increase. Read they will change again to NBC Sports Network or something like that. They can’t get worse.
The ESPN side of things is where they suffer. Just watching Pardon the Interruption on Monday was proof of that. Entire first segment on the NBA playoffs. You’d think it was the only playoffs going on. 2nd segment they did talk one NHL story. Canucks’ Torres not getting suspended. Both agreed the NHL disciplinary is a joke. So the only NHL comment as of that time on the show was negative. Very end of the show as in the last few seconds they asked who was going to win that night`s game between Boston/Montreal. Since I recorded the show it got cut off because it was that late in the program.
The decade long deal really handcuffs the NHL. Since with a reasonable length of a contract ESPN could stay partly interested. A decade though kills that idea. No point at all for them to promote NHL on all it’s properties.
Some good news for US fans. All the Stanley Cup Finals games will be on NBC. I know, fact that is a selling point of the new deal is lame. Some Twitter comments about the deal.
Turnkey Intelligence VP & Group Dir Steve Seiferheld: “No surprise to me at all, Versus can’t be a sports network without at least one mainstream sport.”
CAP Sports Group Owner Curt Pires: “No surprise by the NBC Sports – NHL deal. Its an exciting time for sports rights. You have to keep what you own before you add anything new.
National Post’s Bruce Arthur: “Thank goodness the NHL’s going back to NBC. ESPN doesn’t even have a horse race they could cut away from overtime playoff hockey for.”
Yes, you might’ve forgotten about that. NBC scheduled playoff hockey on Sunday afternoon which ended up going to OT. Game cut into horse racing so they cut away from Sabres-Sens and pushed the game to Cable. Shows their priorites.
As for numbers, ESPN has over 100 Million subscribers. Versus ratings last year averaged 353,000 viewers. Drop in the bucket nationally speaking, even with that being 19% higher than last year. 353K is a number that would get a show on the CBC cancelled. From AdWeek some background on what happened years ago. NHL went to Versus because of an ESPN executive shooting his mouth off.
“Not only would it get hockey back on SportsCenter, but you know ESPN would go all out with their playoff coverage,” the exec said. “When you think about all the shoulder programming and feature packages they would have put together . . . it just feels like a lost opportunity.”
And in the past week a huge story has really changed things. The biggest US Poker websites getting seized by the US Government. Reason it’s big is right away Poker Advertising is gone. I mean GONE. Dropped from all major sports channels and most poker shows were created and run by those same poker companies. They can’t be aired either. That is a lot of inventory that has now disappeared without any warning.
“ESPN will remove poker advertising and programming after the U.S. indicted gambling websites that sponsor televised tournaments and froze their bank accounts”
Hmmm, who thinks ESPN needs something to fill that void? Lost opportunity in more ways than one. Poker story could be an entire separate post. Fascinating part is that Poker websites in Canada are deemed OK. No worries here. So there is talk already from some poker players coming up and living in Canada to make money. Those who made a living playing online poker, they do exist, now can’t make that money in the US. Sounds like the plot to a bad sitcom. ‘American poker player moves to Winnpeg and has to deal with the locals.’
In 10 years could NBC Sports Channel [or whatever they call it] rival ESPN? No. Will be bigger than OLN/VERSUS, faint praise. Just compare the conglomerate. Off the top of my head there is ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPN.com, ESPN Radio, ESPN Magazine, ESPN podcasts and ABC. That’s a lot of places to get the word out on a sport. As pointed out just look at soccer. ESPN gets MLS and the amount of stories increase. TSN gets Toronto FC/Vancouver Whitecaps and I saw a SportsCentre Top 10 entirely on soccer. Coincidence? Hardly.
SportsCenter in the US more likely to have Top 10 Playoff Hockey Goals or Top 10 Playoff Basketball Shots? We know the answer. And casual fans watch ESPN. Lot of casual fans. I have an example of how coverage or lack of coverage of a certain team can affect things.
Got to work a few days ago after Canucks/Blackhawks ended. Guy wanted Vancouver to win. Canucks won that game, which we didn’t see since we work midnights and it was an earlier start. He asked me “Are the Sedins Canadian?”…… yes a real question. The Sedins are twin brothers from Sweden. Informed him they weren’t from Canada. He is a Leafs fan however not a die hard who can name each player on the team or anything. That was a good example of ‘casual sports fans’. If you don’t hear much about a team or sport you don’t pay attention to it.
I’m sure I heard all people in Vancovuer hit their head against a wall when they read the Sedins question. Power of the media for you.
After all of that some radio news. Good Friday I will be live in studio doing a show. Interview with Allison Crowe that will air next week as well, for those listeners who will be out of town for the Easter Weekend. Those who are listening on Friday will get Hey Rosetta! ‘Seeds’ on Vinyl, in it’s entirety. Just found out ‘Seeds’ is currently Number 1 on the CFRC album charts. Was going to play 1 side of the album, with that news I will play the whole thing. And it’s Good Friday. Holiday for most people so you will enjoy something different.
With my strange midnight hours it led to some weird tv watching. Family Day meant almost everything was closed. When you hear Walmart isn’t open that’s a sign there is not much to do in the city. Stayed up into late afternoon then fell asleep. Working 11pm-7am means your day is backwards. Get used to it but your first night off after a work week you just kind of do nothing but rest.
Flicking around around 3am and I find the Gold medal presentation on NBC Detroit of all things. Overnight they are re-running the primetime show with Bob Costas. So I got the “Live” version just a few hours later.
Kudos to Costas for saying that Australian got rich from an “online internet scheme”. Other stations say it’s a business but it’s not. Online advertising that’s been linked to invasive software and spam. That’s a version of a con-man I would say. ‘Click here you might have a virus’ or something along those lines I imagine.
Lost in all of the Canadian coverage is that….. the Australians don’t like him either. Their media is the one who found out about his interent business and a headline ran “Spam Man Wins Gold”. And this from another Aussie newspaper.
“Has there ever been a more unloved, more unlauded, more unpopular Australian Olympic champion than Dale Begg-Smith?”
Sometimes things do work out in sports. Alexandre wins the Gold and the jerk doesn’t.
Saw the 500m rerun. Jeremy Wotherspoon finished 9th. His first Olympics he finished with a Silver. Since then it’s like he’s had a mental block. Falling down at the start in 2002 and admitting to being too cautious in 2006 with another 9th place finish. World record holder in the 500m and all the fans were cheering for him. Even fans of other countries, He’s a skater with more World Cup wins than anyone else. His competitors have said before they are all puzzled by his struggles at the Olympics.
Short post today. Slept through most of the coverage. Catching up now.
Silver but not gold. That sums up the side effect of all those annoying ‘I Believe’ ads and the ‘Own the Podium’ program. Expectations have been raised a bit too high. A Silver medal at any other games would make people happy.
Day 2 and at work we had the moguls on TV. Few people watched Jennifer Heil get a medal. Their reactions:
“Silver is nice but she was supposed to get Gold”
“So we spent millions of dollars for Silver”
That is from regular people. Not the media, just some regular Canadians. It is a tad harsh on the first day of competition. However you get what you asked for. You can’t pump people up for a long time and not expect them to be annoyed when you don’t deliver. Oh wait, am I talking about the Opening Ceremony again? No, but I could be.
My Mom did watch the entire Opening Ceremony. She was underwhelmed. That’s my barometer of doing a good job at these things. If my Mom stayed up through the entire thing and still didn’t like they did a bad job.
That’s not even discussing CTV’s coverage so far. Tried watching Olympic Morning after getting home from work. They had someone from E-Talk discussing whether Sarah McLachlin is single or not……. years of preparation and this is what they come up with. Going to be a long 2 weeks if this keeps up.
Heil’s medal even had some suspect commentating. I know you want the event you’re covering to be the one where Canada gets a Gold but setttle down. Before Hannah Kearney, the American who won, started her run CTV Commentator Veronica Brenner said something. “She has a history of choking”. Choking is a strong word and if an NBC commentator said that about a Canadian in Salt Lake people imagine the reaction in Canada.
Sportsnet still comes across as, well Sportsnet. Even in Vancouver they have problems. After an Olympic sportscast they go to Sean McCormack doing one with other sports news. Starting off sounded like an audio problem then the camera that is moving starts to shake. Not good. Moves again in a jerking motion then zooms in quickly on him. Wow.
Hopefully the weather helps out with other events on Sunday. However figure skating also starts. [shudder]
Trying to see if I can find footage of MuchMusic’s contribution on Friday night. Body shots in a hot tub and asking girls to “drop their gear for beer”. Guessing they might not pop up during the closing ceremonies.
From what I’ve seen so far NBC’s production has been more professional and smooth. Just put it on Olympic Morning again. Still not good. A very “herky jerky” feel to it. They’ve said they spent months getting ready and rehearsing. I don’t see it yet. The morning show especially is painful at times. Right now some people from MTV Canada are attempting some “comedy” about figure skating with Elvis Stojko.
Finally the Olympic cauldron looks ugly. I don’t mind saying it. Read it described as a bunch of logs leaning against each other or on Yahoo Sports some joints. Drug humour about B.C.? I’m shocked. lol.
I would hope the TV coverage improves but so far it shows they are really out of touch with what viewers want. Comedy pieces and gossip about singers is not what people are watching for.