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The NHL Lockout Is A Non-Story For Fox Sports Radio

from Don Laible at UTICAOD,

This past Friday on my drive home from work I was listening to WNRS, the local FOX radio station.  The Loose Cannons program, hosted by Steve Hartman, Vic Jacobs, and Pat O'Brien, just as on every day, blah, blah, blah about their personal time away from the studio, and the National Football League officials issue.  Even after the issue was settled, the same unimaginative, follow the leader routine is followed.  I'm thinking, why haven't I heard two words about the NHL lockout?  Imagine, if MLB,NBA, or if their were a labor issue going on in the NFL ( wait, there was one ), shouldn't a sports program and their reporters dig for news, speak with experts, keep their audience informed.  Yep, but that takes work and KNOWLEDGE of ALL sports.  Bias anywhere illustrates weakness.

So, I get home on Friday and call the program 's Los Angeles studio and want to go on the air and ask why no coverage of the NHL.  The producer I speak with didn't put me on the show, but instead laughed at me and said, "no one cares about the NHL".

 Because that individual or a local TV or radio anchor has either no interest or KNOWLEDGE about a sport, and doesn't want to expose themselves as not-all knowing, they hide from the story by pretending there is no story.

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Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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There’s actually a difference between not caring about something and pretending there’s no story.  Most shows like this know their audience.  If they’re like most radio shows they know they work in a dying medium and they’re struggling to keep an audience, they’re on facebook, they’re on twitter and they have a number of active phone lines, so if they thought their audience gave a damn about the NHL lockout they would talk about it.  Instead, one guy calls in to ask about it- and oh, by the way, he got his answer- and assumes that everyone in the sports world wants to know about it just because he’s interested.

Is ‘pretending nobody cares just because you don’t care’ any better or worse than ‘pretending everyone should care because you care’?

Posted by Garth on 09/30/12 at 10:17 AM ET

gowings's avatar

Garth:

I could not articulate this any better. I share your thoughts

 

Posted by gowings from MTL on 09/30/12 at 11:25 AM ET

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Here’s the problem.  Relatively speaking, no one cares.  There’s all the shenanigans of the NFL these past couple weeks.  MLB is in the pennant run.  NBA camps are opening.  College football is in full swing.

On any rational list of topics, even an active NHL wouldn’t rate higher than 5th or 6th.

A locked-out NHL where weeks go by without anything of substance occurring?  Please.  Maybe top 10.  Maybe.  Not too many shows need to go 10 deep on topics to fill their airtime.

Every second a station spends ‘wasting’ on the NHL is one they aren’t spending on the 9-12 other things people might actually want to hear.

Also, WNRS is in Virginia.  Is there an NHL team within 150 miles of Amherst?  The Hurricanes are more than 150 miles away.  The Caps are 165 miles away.

Who the bleep cares in Virginia about the NHL when there isn’t a team within 2 hours of the radio station?  Gimme a break.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/30/12 at 03:41 PM ET

HockeyFanOhio's avatar

This is something that I wonder if the NHL owners understand.  The hardcore fans of the league are a pretty small group relative to other sports.  When they loose everyone but that small group of fans, and even some of those due to the lockout are they going to be able to keep up the growth of recent years?

Posted by HockeyFanOhio from Central Ohio on 09/30/12 at 04:52 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

In all fairness, they talk about WNBA more here on talk radio in Columbus than the Blue Jackets.  For a while Torg had this weekly interview he’d do with Arniel, that filled their quota for the week.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 09/30/12 at 06:17 PM ET

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When I lived in Ohio the BJ’s were on tv maybe 15 times a year because they rarely sold out.  They got pre-empted for every Reds game, and even the post-Lebron Cavs games.

The same thing is happening in small markets all over the country.  This is why the owners and players are fighting to the death over HRR without much concern for their 200 mil a year TV deal.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/30/12 at 06:49 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

The screener was 100% right. NOBODY cares about the NHL!
“Good Times” reruns get better ratings than an NHL game!

I will say this till I’m dead, the NHL needs more quality goals!!!

I’m a hockey fan and I can barely stay awake for most NHL games. “Ooh, look, another scramble goal scored on the power-play!!”.

There’s a reason why soccer isn’t remotely popular in the U.S.
Love it or hate it, North American’s LOVE scoring.

The game has to be appealing enough so that fans are interested in games that don’t include their cities team.
What motivation does someone from Minnesota have for tuning into a Coyotes-Predators game?
Why would anyone from Boston watch the Flames and Ducks?

You can watch nearly every NFL team and be entertained. Same with basketball.
The same can’t be said for hockey. 99% of hockey fans are really a 1-team fan.
If their team isn’t playing, they’re not watching.
Once that is reversed, then people like that screener won’t be able to say that nobody cares about hockey.
And that won’t happen unless the game is changed in a big way.
More chances and more quality goals.
When LA scored 3 PP goals in the first 5 minutes of game 6, everyone on the planet that knows hockey, knows that game is over.
Heck, in most cases, if you’re leading after 2 periods, the game is over.

Give non-fans a reason to tune in. Heck, give HOCKEY fans a reason to tune into games that don’t include their team.

Posted by Hank1974 on 10/01/12 at 12:01 PM ET

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Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/30/12 at 03:41 PM ET

HD, just an FYI. I think that Fox program is a syndicated show. Hartman and Jacobs are based here in LA.

Posted by socalwingnut on 10/01/12 at 01:24 PM ET

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I would say that a $3 billion dollar industry means there must be some interest. The fact that the people covering sports, for the most part, have no clue and therefore cannot maintain a narrative is the main reason it gets very little air time.  I don’t think it really matters how the game is played.  They don’t care and the coverage is sloppy at best.

I find football to be the most mind numbling boring sport to watch in stadium live and yet I can listen to the drive time radio heads talk about it for half an hour at a time. That’s because it is covered so much, I can’t help but know who all of the characters in their little daily cartoon happen to be. It starts off as background noise on the drive home, but on rare occasions the hype even gets me to check the latest football score.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 10/01/12 at 01:56 PM ET

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HD, just an FYI. I think that Fox program is a syndicated show. Hartman and Jacobs are based here in LA.

I know.  It’s a national show, based in LA, broadcast in Amherst.  That’s why the show is going to laugh off an NHL caller in Amherst.  1) There aren’t that many NHL fans in most places anyway and 2) even if there are, they sure as heck aren’t going to be in cities 150 miles from an NHL team.

will say this till I’m dead, the NHL needs more quality goals!!!

I disagree.

The problem with the NHL relative to the NFL, NBA and MLB is that it is by far the least TV-friendly sport, and by far the best in-person sport.  That’s obviously a huge problem when it comes to things like TV contracts.  Until the way the games are televised strikes some kind of empathetic chord with US television markets it will always struggle to be a compelling TV asset.

Seriously, how many different in-game live TV angles do you get in an NHL broadcast?  You get the wide pull back that sweeps from side to side of the rink.  That’s it.

The NFL has in-play zooms, it tracks the ball exceedingly well in motion.  Due to the pacing of the sport there are always opportunities for instantaneous replays, and the NFL always has 2-4 unique angles on any substantive event.  The NBA and MLB are very similar.

The basic pacing of the NHL makes the same kind of treatment impossible to do without split-screening.  It’s going to take some kind of Steve Sabol-esque innovator coming up with a new means of broadcasting NHL games, IMO.  If it’s even possible.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/01/12 at 02:57 PM ET

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Hockey could easily make dramatic changes to how the game is broadcast, even counting the intermissions.  The idea that the game is always broadcast “live and direct” is not necessary. I watch the game on my DVR with a few minute lag so that I can go back and review plays and jump over commercials.  By the last ten mintues of the third, I am totally in-synch with the end of the game.

The NHL doesn’t have to jump over commercials, but they could easily delay picking up the action by a few seconds to show replays and bleed into the useless garbage shown in-between periods. Each period would start on time and the producer would ensure they don’t lag more than 10 minutes from the actual playing time.  You would be able to show about 25 more replays per period (at about an average 40 second clip and have advertising banners around the replays) that would highlight what is happening at high speed and fans wouldn’t flip channels everytime an ad came on. 

For fans that want it up to the minute live, go to the internet feed or go to the rink to watch the game. The NHL is gate driven anyway, so why not use that as a slight enticement to attend in person. Matter of fact, it would improve the in-game experience as well. You wouldn’t have to wait for the TV timeouts to end as your senses are being assaulted by blasting music that doesn’t even allow you to have a conversation about the game.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 10/02/12 at 10:35 AM 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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