Kukla's Korner Hockey
Another look at the NHL/ESPN talks..
from the Buffalo News,
It is difficult to assess whether the NHL and ESPN are in serious talks or whether the league is just protecting itself in case NBC walks away from its partnership after next season.
According to sources, NBC is happy with its NHL deal. It is a money-maker. However, it isn’t happy with the primetime ratings for the Stanley Cup finals. It has had the bad luck of seeing a Canadian team make the finals for two straight years, which deflates U.S. ratings because Canadian viewership doesn’t count.
If two U.S. teams qualify for the 2008 Cup finals, NBC is sure to see a ratings spike that would almost certainly mean it will exercise its option for the 2008-09 season. It might exercise it anyway.
via the Vancouver Sun,
Ray Ferraro didn’t have to worry long about being dumped by NBC as an analyst for NHL telecasts. He’ll be back with Rogers Sportsnet this coming season and is poised to sign a handsome and lengthy contract with Hockey Night In Canada beginning with the 2008-09 season.
Ir you are like me and listen to Leafs Lunch on a regular basis, here is a bit of news- Leafs Lunch wll be moving to afternoon drive-time beginning next Tuesday. Leafs Lunch will still be on at noon, but for only one hour.
Read all about it at the Toronto Star...
William Houston at the Globe & Mail (Thursday’s edition),
TSN is moving closer to reaching a contract extension with the NHL. A new agreement for national cable rights is expected to be completed in a few weeks. “They’re focusing on it getting done before the start of the season,” a source said.
Highlights to look for:
* More games involving Canadian teams, including more Toronto Maple Leafs games;
* The opportunity for a Canadian match-up in the playoffs;
* Broadband streaming rights to games televised on TSN.
from William Houston of the Globe and Mail,
The online publication SportsBusiness Journal reported this week that the NHL has started preliminary talks with ESPN about replacing NBC as a television partner in 2008-09.
In response, an NBC spokesman said it was premature to speculate on what the network will do with its 2008-09 option.
What’s more, NBC will employ a flexible NHL schedule in 2007-08, from which it will pick the best matchup — a move that should push up ratings.
“This is the first opportunity that NBC will have to really fight for the rating number that it considers to be its target,” an NHL source said.
Still, if the NHL is talking to ESPN, it’s almost certain NBC has informed the league it is preparing to pull out.
Networks make programming decisions months in advance. It’s unlikely the NHL would have approached ESPN unless it knew NBC was not planning to pick up its option.
Update 2:30am ET:
More thoughts from TIB,
Giving up exclusivity for publicity would be a smart move for the young network. ESPN, which has mocked the channel on occasion, would now be helping remind its audience it not only exists, but carries similar content. Somewhere Alanis Morissette is smiling.
Despite the jokes directed at Versus, Comcast has done a good job getting it onto more cable systems since the NHL deal was signed, and continuously improving the hockey broadcasts as they’ve gone along.
from the Vancouver Province,
Turn out the lights. The NBC-NHL party is just about over. The U.S. TV network has one year plus an option left on its deal with the hockey league and with numbers sinking faster than the Lusitania the rats are already jumping ship.
The NHL on NBC now makes “Joanie Loves Chachi” look like an Einstein-like programming decision.
In response, the network has now cancelled its studio show and has reduced three games on Saturday to just one on Sunday.
Gone are Brett Hull, Bill Clement and Ray Ferraro.
“Of course I was disappointed,” says Ferraro. “Three minutes into the call and you know you’ve got to start earning a living some place else.”
read on & some HNIC news too…
from Ray Slover at the Sporting News,
Unless I see something that tells me otherwise, I’d rather see the NHL leave games on NBC and Versus. Yeah, an ESPN connection would raise the league’s public-relations image. And if NBC wants out of the deal, the NHL is right to do something to assure its TV presence on a high-level U.S. broadcast outlet, preferably one available to the highest number of viewers. Free TV, rather than cable.
Hard-core fans aren’t the NHL’s primary concern. They are hooked and in the creel. It’s casual fans the league needs to grow its base and popularity. And realigning with the magical machine that is ESPN would seem a bonanza in the making.
Nah. Leave the games on Versus. Better yet, go through with the proposed NHL Network. It’s better than being a second citizen on ESPN.
from the SportsBusiness Journal (paid sub.),
The NHL and ESPN are in discussions about bringing the league’s games back to ESPN2 as soon as the 2008-09 season. Multiple sources described the conversations as preliminary. The two started talking the week of July 16 when the NHL approached ESPN about NBC’s nine-game regular-season …
added 11:30am, Thanks to the folks at SportsBusiness Journal for providing the link to the story for KK readers! This article also mentions the NHL Network and some Center Ice talk too.
via Sports Business Daily (paid sub.),
NBC Sports Coordinating Producer Sam Flood today announced that former Islanders GM & coach Mike Milbury will join the net’s “NHL Game of the Week” as a studio analyst, replacing former NHLer Brett Hull, who has taken a front-office position with the Stars. The studio show, which originated from Rockefeller Plaza the past two seasons, will now be broadcast live on location from game sites and will be hosted by Pierre McGuire,
added 4:32pm, from TV Week,
“Mike is sometimes controversial, usually quotable and always interesting,” said Sam Flood, NBC Sports’ coordinating producer and NHL Producer. “As an ex-player, coach and GM, he brings a hat trick of perspective to his new role as a broadcaster. And taking the studio show inside the arena provides an immediacy and big event feel, while shining an even bigger spotlight on the ‘Game of the Week.’”
Multiple award-winning Canadian sports journalist Pierre LeBrun joins the Hockeycentral panel and sportsnet.ca for the 2007-08 NHL season.
LeBrun, well known in Canadian sports circles for breaking big stories, will be part of the 2007-08 Hockeycentral team which features numerous hockey experts including host Daren Millard and regular analysts Nick Kypreos and Bill Watters.
“I’m thrilled to be on board with Rogers Sportsnet and look forward to breaking down what will be an interesting 2007-08 NHL season,” said LeBrun. “There’s a cool vibe at Sportsnet and I want to be part of that.”
note: thanks to PuckHound for noting this in the KK forums
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org