Puck the Media’s Hockey Network of the Decade… NBC
December 29, 2009 12 Comments
(Today, Puck the Media features my picks for various decade-ending awards. I hope you enjoy them.)
Ready to go knockdown drag-out on this one? Here’s my thesis: Despite a lack of game coverage, despite turning down Doc Emrick’s mic to the point of almost inaudibility, despite having essentially a three-man booth, despite cutting from the OT of a Stanley Cup Playoff game to show horses walking around… NBC has saved hockey on network broadcast television in the states, has done an outright better job of televising it than any other network in the United States, competes neck-and-neck with CBC during the Stanley Cup Final as far as better coverage goes, and has – all things considered – done more to advance the way the sport of hockey is televised than TSN, VERSUS, CBC and others combined. For those reasons, NBC is the hockey network of the decade.
Think about it. Winter Classic? NBC. Inside the Glass? NBC. New camera angles to show different views of power plays? NBC. Best Stanley Cup Final ratings since the 70’s? NBC. Those theatrical debates between Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury, before Milbury turned into the boogieman of hockey coverage? NBC. These are all things that have gotten hockey into the mainstream. Every single one of these ideas is a positive effort to make the sport more telegenic, more fan friendly, and closer to the players.
CBC’s HD work is fantastic, and TSN has a good studio show. VERSUS has been solid on the game telecasts. The point is, however, that all of them are merely pushing the status quo. NBC doesn’t broadcast enough games, we know that. They should not miss a week between January and the Stanley Cup Final, particularly after the Super Bowl. However, NBC tries new things. They break ground, at times without even trying. They’re willing to take chances on the sport that other networks simply haven’t. They are relevant to today’s hockey viewer without annoying the old guard. That is why they mattered more than any other hockey network this decade. Sue me.
Honorable Mention: You know who broadcast hockey this decade, they’re all in there.