Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Slap Shots has learned that NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly and director of business affairs Glenn Healy met with ESPN executives earlier this year, with Bettman’s knowledge and authorization. We’re told ESPN, which did in fact treat the NHL like an unwanted stepchild while it was the league’s cable rights-holder, showed substantial interest in bringing the sport back to the network.
But that interest, which included an offer of a rights fee that was reported to the commissioner, has not been seriously returned from the league, at least not yet. Versus would have to relinquish its national cable exclusivity in order to strike a deal with ESPN. From what we’re told, NBC opposes a deal with ESPN because of ABC’s parentage of the cable network.
From what we’re told, Bettman places a fair amount of stock into what NBC thinks, though we cannot imagine why.
According to sources, the NHL made approximately $3 million last year out of its profit-sharing arrangement with NBC. That’s $3 million, total, or $100,000 per team. Not even Phoenix needs that, not when the NHL’s signature series is all but shut out by the NBC, not when there’s no ESPN to showcase it.
from Bob DiCesare of the Buffalo News,
Versus appeared to realize its embarrassing predicament. The studio show ran late, into other programming, just so the network could at least provide viewers with the final score. And when the ’Canes scored twice in the final two minutes, winning, 4-3, I just had to shake my head at the ineptitude of the NHL operation.
The league’s television ratings have never been great, which is why the NHL finds itself on an outpost such as Versus (although, to be honest, the network has come a long way.) What could be better for cultivating or maintaining interest than to shift viewers from one Game Seven to another, stirring appetites for the next series? What other sport diverts fans from its product when its product’s in full bloom? Imagine settling in for the second game of an NFL playoff doubleheader only to find out the game won’t be shown because the league’s granted exclusivity to a regional sports network in, say, Indianapolis.
Someone who answered the phone at Versus on Wednesday said the network has received numerous calls on the issue. He then gave me a phone number for the programming department. A recording informed me the number was not in service. I left a message at another Versus number. Still waiting.
from Bruce Ciskie of the Fanhouse,
The word “fail” sure seems to be commonly associated with Versus, doesn’t it? Fair or not, the network gets a lot of flak from hockey fans for its coverage of the sport.
Last week, the NHL’s cable television partner bailed from the epic ending of the Carolina-New Jersey game so we could listen to their people drone on about a game that hadn’t started yet. To make matters worse, they were back at it again Tuesday, as two epic Game 7s were contested in the Eastern Conference.
Surely, no one had a problem with Versus deciding to air the Rangers-Capitals game. We’re not stupid out here. We know that this stuff is driven by ratings, and we get that the Rangers and Capitals will likely draw the network a bigger number than the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils would.
That said, we do expect Versus to keep their word.
My opinion- What do you expect from a network that has Dwayne (Eklund) making hockey predictions!
from George Richards of On Frozen Pond at the Miami Herald,
I don’t like writing cellphone posts unless it’s breaking news or what have you. But I have about had enough of Versus’ so-called coverage of the NHL postseason. How is it that they pull away from a 3-3 game in Carolina to put on a crummy open to a game in Anaheim that wasn’t going to start for another 30 minutes, much less another Esurance commercial we all know by heart?
I have to agree with George. I am not sure why Versus makes the decisions they do, but they sure are not catering to the knowledgeable hockey fan.
from Mike Reynolds of Multichannel News,
Versus will carry ratings momentum into the boards when the National Hockey League faces off for the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs Wednesday.
The Comcast-owned sports network continued its Nielsen advance with the puck sport with significant double-digit growth during the 2008-09 regular season. At the same time, Versus will look to measure up to the major gains it registered with last year’s postseason run.
“It’s our fourth season. Versus is the established home for the National Hockey League,” said Versus executive vice president of programming, production and business operations Marc Fein, who notes the network is also benefiting from an expanded sub base that has grown 4% over the past year in surpassing the 75 million mark.
from Puck the Media,
NBC released it’s PR for the Bruins-Rangers game yesterday, which is what they usually do for the NBC Game of the Week. We took a quick look at it to see if there was anything interesting, and moved on. We went back to it, quite by accident, by clicking on the wrong link. So we decided to read it again, and in this PR, it listed something we hadn’t seen before:
NBC will also broadcast weekend games throughout the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and up to five Stanley Cup Final games (Games 1, 2, 5, 6 & 7).
That certainly captured my attention. We immediately E-Mailed Brian Walker of NBC Universal’s crack PR team, who confirmed the situation.
Steve of Puck the Media gets this news today…
The Sharks’ 5-2 victory against the Bruins on Tuesday was the highest-rated and most-watched regular-season game in Versus’ four years with the NHL. It drew a 0.54 household rating nationally (550,000 viewers) and was 69 percent above the network’s average for the season.
NEW YORK, N.Y. (January 28, 2009)- VERSUS, the network that celebrates real competition and the exclusive cable television home of the National Hockey League (NHL), earned a .9 national household rating which translates in to 697,576 households and 1,086,998 total viewers for its telecast of the 2009 NHL All-Star Game on Sunday, January 25. All figures are according to Nielsen Media Research and VERSUS Research and are live+same day numbers.
from Tarik El-Bashir of Capitals Insider at the Washington Post,
And then there were no replays in the press box - because Nassau Coliseum doesn’t get Versus. Go figure.
more on the Caps OT win against the Islanders.
thanks to a KK reader for the pointer.
Tapeleg at Jerseys and Hockey Love,
From Bob Harwood of Versus at the top of the postgame show:
In fact, there are so many goals we can’t show them all.
And this quote is why I am sick of the NHL on Versus. The worst hockey highlights this side of ESPN Sportcenter.
No, instead of showing you goals, we are going to have an interview with Ryan Smyth. And we won’t even ask mhim anything interesting like what he said to the ref that got him sent back in the box for the second Wild power play goal.
6-5 Avs. Over the Wild. That’s like a Nashville - Islanders score. The new NHL lives on.
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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