Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bob Verdi of the Chicago Tribune,
“What’s going on in Chicago is fantastic,” said Dick Ebersol, sports chairman of a network that had a profitable fling during Jordan’s reign. “The Winter Classic at Wrigley Field was the highest-rated regular season game in 34 years. Game 1 of this series was the highest-rated game on U.S. TV, not counting finals or the winter classics, in five years. There is an uptick in hockey, especially in Chicago.”
NBC’s contract is up at year’s end, but in a feeble economy, Ebersol hopes the network and league can continue to partner by sharing risk and reward. Ever the contrarian, he touts Versus as the solution, not the problem. From America’s most powerful TV executive, this is not the stuff of fluff.
“Versus treats hockey the right way, not second fiddle as it was on ESPN,” said Ebersol. “Versus is in 20 million fewer homes, but the holes are tightening. And don’t forget, Versus is owned by Comcast. I like that strength. I also liked Bill Wirtz. The new people in Chicago have done a great job, but Bill was a character, and he cared about the sport.”
more on the Blackhawks…
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
If the first two rounds of the playoffs have been a showcase for the NHL’s greatest young players—start with Crosby and Ovechkin, go directly to Evgeni Malkin, then to Eric Staal, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews—it also has exposed the folly of Gary Bettman’s love affair with Versus and the grudge he carries against ESPN.
It has exposed the NHL’s empty approach to a television strategy, even as Bettman risks dislocating his shoulders in patting himself on the back for his league’s innovative approach to blacking itself out.
The commissioner may have been justified in not taking ESPN’s crumbs coming out of the lockout. He may have been justified placing the league’s immediate future into the hands of Versus, owned by Ed Snider’s Comcast, by the way.
But Bettman was not justified in granting Versus a contract that included unilateral options for the network to retain exclusivity through 2010-11—a six-year commitment as crippling in its own way as the Rangers’ six-year commitment to Wade Redden.
more plus other hockey topics…
•How do you explain the Western Conference Finals featuring two teams east of the Mississippi?
• I am starting to get my ‘day clock’ adjusted. Those late games played on the west coast sure threw my body clock into a funk the last two weeks.
• Any one moment from the first two rounds that you will go into your long-term memory bank?
• Those of us in the USA will be watching most of the games on Versus during the Conference Finals. The one thing I want to see go away is that darn commercial bar that appears on the bottom right of the screen during play (see an example in the video).
Any suggestions you have, please leave a comment. This is not a post about knocking Versus but to make suggestions to improve their broadcast.
E.J. Hradek on NHL Live asked Henrik Zetterberg if he has been watching the other playoff matchups. Zetterberg basically responded the hotel in California did not have Versus, so it was difficult to watch.
from Kevin Downey of Media Life,
Versus has been posting sizable year-over-year ratings increases for NHL semifinal games….
In the timeslot, Versus ranked No. 2 among all cable networks, trailing only TNT in key male demographic groups, according to Versus.
Last week, Versus ranked an impressive No. 21 among all cable networks in primetime with an average audience of 813,000 people, according to a Turner Research analysis of Nielsen ratings.
Among 18-49s, Versus was in the top 10, a huge feat for a tiny network. It had an audience of 517,000 people in the demographic.
By comparison, in April, Versus had an audience of 319,000 people, down 17 percent from April 2008. Among 18-49s, it had 190,000 viewers, also down 17 percent.
from Sean Gregory of Time,
What a dream series for the NHL. The league’s two best players, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are going goal for goal, assist for assist, in an Eastern Conference semifinal series headed for a deciding Game 7 Wednesday night. In Game 2, a captivating 4-3 Capitals win, both guys scored hat tricks. Five of the games have been decided by one goal, and three have gone into overtime.
It’s a once-in-a-decade duel — the kind of rare treat that somehow exceeds the hype. So tonight, tune into channel 603, and catch the last game of an instant classic.
That’s right: channel 603, square in television’s Yukon Territory. Since the hockey playoffs are on Versus, formerly known as the Outdoor Life Network, viewers in many markets will have to search the hinterland of channel listings in order to watch the games….
Due to Versus’ limited carriage and penalty box position on many channel lineups, what should be a transcendent series for hockey in America is barely cracking mainstream consciousness. Versus has carried all of the Penguins-Caps series except for Game 1, which NBC broadcast on May 2, and has averaged 1.04 million viewers, according to the Nielsen Company. The series is drawing a smaller audience than last year’s College Baseball World Series, on ESPN, when it averaged 1.4 million viewers.
As I have mentioned in the past, hockey fans will watch, casual sports fans, those that click the remote trying to find a game, will not watch. Not many people have Versus in their ‘favorites’ list and it is too bad, they will be missing a great game tonight.
David Steckel deflects a shot from Brooks Laich and we move on to game 7 in Washington.
One more thing, Bruce Boudreau needs to bet some better collar stays to prevent his shirt collar from pointing upwards.
added 10:44pm, Game highlights via Versus can be watched below…
via Puck The Media,
From VERSUS’ NHL Twitter Feed:
Versus coverage starts at 5:00PMET w/ ANA at DET! Go to versus.com/nhl & scroll to the bottom to find your VS channel!
The only problem is the game is not on Versus. The game is on regional networks in the US, plus the NHL Network, TSN and RDS.
Versus promised people in the Detroit and Anaheim markets that they would be switching to the Wings/Ducks game as soon as the puck dropped since their early game, Chicago/Vancouver was going into OT.
I guess they did switch, but only on their SD channel. People who were watching the HD channel on Versus, in this case, channel 603 via Directv, did not get the switch.
Versus needs to let people know exactly what they are doing, spell it out beforehand instead of forcing people to start searching for the game they promised to show.
added 10:37am, from Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy,
Watching the Stanley Cup playoffs on Versus is like watching a community theater production of “Les Miserables.” The source material’s emotional potency and the magnetic qualities of its aesthetics make it, at a minimum, eminently enjoyable.
from Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune,
“A lot of people don’t even realize that Versus exists,” Hawks’ owner Rocky Wirtz said Tuesday before Game 3 at the United Center. “You just have to grin and bear it. It’s a league-mandated decision.”...
“Hopefully the league will realize that access can only help the game instead of trying to funnel it through a very small eye of the needle,” Wirtz said. “We didn’t make a lot of money on our WGN deal, but the idea was that eventually we would.”...
“Hopefully, the league will look at this,” Wirtz said. “What we’re competing with is everybody’s free time. There are a thousand things they could be doing besides watching the Hawks.”
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.
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