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Surprise! Lockout screws over NBC Sports Network

Oh, Ed Snider. Phiadelphia Flyers owner. One of Gary Bettman's chief lieutenants, along with Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold. Shea Weber bidder. Comcast chairman, and now, big stakeholder in NBC Universal. Snider's initial sports network offering, Comcast Sportsnet affiliates excluded, was Versus, and now USA Today's Michael Hiestand reports that the rebranded NBC Sports Network is kinda sorta screwed thanks to the lockout Snider so ardently supports:

At least one NHL owner really has to hope the NHL lockout ends soon.

As the owner of the NHL's Philadephia Flyers, Comcast Corp. might want the NHL to be tough in talks with the league's players, who were locked out at midnight Saturday. But Comcast execs are entitled to mixed emotions: The company's NBC Sports Network cable channel could end up taking an untimely hit if the season is severely delayed or canceled.

Not that the NHL delivers big national TV ratings to Comcast's NBC outlets. NBC's dozen regular-season NHL games last year averaged 1% of U.S. households -- about as low as regular-season broadcast ratings get -- while NBCSN's 90 games drew 0.2% of cable TV homes.Yikes.

But after Versus (which previously had been the Outdoor Life Network) was rebranded as NBCSN in January, the channel was supposed to get a boost in exposure as one of NBC's London Olympic platforms. That happened, as the women's Olympic soccer final on NBCSN drew more viewers--4.3 million -- than any of last year's NHL playoff games. The Games were supposed to serve as a lead-in to the channel in general and to what NBCSN programming head Jon Miller has called "our most important property" -- NHL games.

NBC/NBCSN last year started a10-year NHL deal -- in which it will pay at least $1.8 billion -- for games that will at least create plenty of TV tonnage. Coverage on NBCSN, which was supposed to carry at least 90-plus games, is scheduled to start with an Oct. 11 Boston-Philadelphia/St. Louis-Colorado doubleheader. (Hey, what a lucky break that the Flyers get to be in the opener!) NBC's coverage does not start until Nov. 23.

Said NBC spokesman Chris McCloskey on Sunday: "We are preparing a selection of replacement programming that includes soccer, boxing, original programming, and college football, basketball and hockey."

Given that NBCSN's NHL ratings are so close to zero, it shouldn't be too hard for NBCSN to replace hockey audiences. When the NHL's post-season was cancelled in 2005, ESPN came up with a hodgepodge of fill-ins -- whose ratings were comparable to playoff hockey. But given NBCSN's long-term plan to get as least close to top-of-mind among sports viewers, this is a bad time to be throwing together a big dinner with leftovers.

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phillyd's avatar

George, get your facts straight. Ed Snider has ZERO to do with Comcast. He is not a chairman of Comcast, that would be Brian Roberts and the rest of the Roberts family. He is not a huge stakeholder in NBC Universal. I hate it when people seem to have this thing where they think Snider is running Comcast. It’s the reverse, I live in Philly. He needed someone to help him come in and pay off his debt on the building of the WF Center, that someone was the Roberts family from Comcast. THEY own something like 40-45% of the Flyers, Snider owns 51% and there are a few others smattered in between. The regional networks are usually owned by a combination of the sports teams and Comcast, for example, in Philly it’s owned by Flyers, Sixers, Phillies and Comcast (Sixers and Phillies are not owned by Snider or the Roberts family).. If you want to argue that Comcast should have stake in this with their loss of programming on NBC Universal networks, fine, but knock it off with the whole conspiracy theories involving Snider because you have the underlying facts wrong.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 09/17/12 at 07:46 AM ET


Ed Snider “is the chairman of Comcast Spectacor, a Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment company that owns the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, the Wells Fargo Center, the regional sports network Comcast SportsNet and Global Spectrum, an international facilities management company.”

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/17/12 at 07:53 AM ET


phillyd nailed it. wasn’t it Jeremy Jacobs idea to record the BOG meeting to show solidarity for Bettman? Snider makes his money off parking revenue at the sports complex and Xfinity Live these days. Plus Peter Lukko has taken a larger role in running the flyers these days.

Posted by FlyersFan on 09/17/12 at 11:53 AM ET


ComCrap won’t lose money over the loss of coverage by NBCSports Network, but by people not paying the outrageous price they charge for the Center Ice Package.

Posted by HatTrick on 09/17/12 at 11:55 AM ET


Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 09/17/12 at 12:25 PM ET



Posted by Garth on 09/17/12 at 12:57 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

also this Prior to the Wells Fargo Center’s opening in 1996, he sold a 66% stake in Spectacor to Philadelphia-based Comcast, creating Comcast Spectacor. However, Snider remained chairman of the venture, retaining a 34% interest. Soon after, Comcast Spectacor along with the Philadelphia Phillies created Comcast SportsNet in 1996. The company also bought the 76ers, who had been Snider’s tenants since 1971. Comcast Spectacor also won an expansion franchise in the AHL, the Phantoms.

& even though I despise him & his team this is cool ![Ed Snider is the executive producer of the film Atlas Shrugged: Part I. In an interview published in the Philadelphia Metro newspaper on April 26, 2011, Snider was quoted as saying “They tried to make this film for 50 years ... Hollywood did not want to make this movie because it did not adhere to its liberal agenda.”/strong]

Posted by Evilpens on 09/17/12 at 01:50 PM ET


Too bad he was more interested in getting around those damn liberals than he was in getting a good movie made.

Posted by Garth on 09/17/12 at 02:40 PM ET

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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.

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