NBC Drops Ball With Inexcusable Hockey Coverage False Start

NBC made a couple of mistakes in their Olympic hockey coverage yesterday, and I don’t wanna sound insane.  Look, I don’t want to come off sounding like a nut of a hockey fan thinking my sport is the most important thing in the Winter Olympics.  But for people to miss half the first period of the host nation, Team Canada, in their first game because of curling and a 13-0 women’s hockey game is downright lunacy.

With a 7:30 PM start time, it was an initial mistake by NBC to list the game as starting at 8PM on CNBC at the listings page of their website.  In their press release, they merely listed it as following USA-Japan in women’s curling.  Alas, the curling match went long.  It ended around 7:45.  This is fair enough, as it was a close match, and it is Team USA, and curling is kind of awesome.

But NBC needed to pick up the slack here.  They had USA-Russia in women’s hockey over on MSNBC, with the score at 13-0 Americans.  Women’s hockey, especially Team USA, is an important thing to pump up.  Seriously though, the game was 13-0 with five minutes left.  They should’ve absolutely switched games and not waited for the women’s game to end.  Even a compromise of sticking with Team USA on MSNBC HD and going to men’s hockey on the normal channel would’ve been good.

NBC has made it clear that they don’t consider men’s or women’s hockey a “ready for primetime” sport in their Olympic coverage, based on the sport’s relegation to cable and daytime/weekends for the entire thing.  That’s fine.  The fact is, NBCU knows it has two popular cult sports in hockey and curling, and that there should be separate channels for each.  USA Network should handle the curling, and MSNBC should split the men’s/women’s hockey with CNBC, or even add a third network if necessary.  All of this annoyingness could have been avoided, but NBCU chose to keep puckheads in the dark as usual.

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Steve Lepore is the Managing Editor of Puck the Media. His work has been featured in The Hockey News. Feel free to contact him at stevemlepore@gmail.com

24 Responses to NBC Drops Ball With Inexcusable Hockey Coverage False Start

  1. Sean says:

    I thought that was garbage too. You knew Canada was going to win 8-0 or whatever so the most exciting part was the beginning…and they didn’t show that. Lame, lame, lame.

  2. star says:

    Agreed, They are shuting down the NHL for this…Hockey takes precedence.

  3. nosferatu says:

    Deb and Billy led NHL Live today with a discussion of this same issue, adding the important point that somehow NBC should have at least informed viewers that the Canada-Norway game was coming up.

    The problem is, I expect these problems to simply continue over the next week and probably be worse than they were yesterday. Glad to see I wasn’t alone in feeling frustrated.

  4. ScottyWazz says:

    At the same time, why would an American company be chomping at the bit to show another country over their country, shellacking or not. They’re going to focus on the American teams, even if the host country is playing in their opening game in what is the biggest sport in the country.

    There has to be a lot of jockeying with sponsorships and what-not as well, who knows when certain spots are supposed to show with certain events.

    I’d be offended if a broadcaster dropped an event my country was participating in for a country that is not mine. The NBC interest is for the USA, not any other country.

  5. C.J. Richey says:

    Olympic hockey will never get top priority because they don’t have tv timeouts. NBC can’t plaster their coverage of hockey with ads like they have been with all the other sports.

  6. Scotty makes some good points, but the fact is, no one cares about a 13-0 game. OK, maybe relatives and friends of the individual players but that’s about it.

    Let’s not forget that NBC has at least a small monetary incentive to give hockey some coverage. Sure, the Olympics haven’t grown the sport like some hoped, but this is the first time hockey is on normal human hours AND in HD at the same time. That’s a double whammy that could at least pique a few imaginations.

    Either way, though, NBC dropped the ball on communicating with fans. Even if hoceky fans are a minority, a company should never make it so unclear to follow the sport.

    I’ll leave it at that, but it’s just mind numbing.

  7. Argh, I spelled hockey incorrectly. That’s not cool.

  8. leafsfan1967 says:

    Steve, this is an excellent post. NBC has messed up, but if we thought they would get it right I think we were kidding ourselves.

    The bottom line is if people want the whole game they are going to have to watch it online.

  9. Eric says:

    This is probably going to be a problem every day, or at least the next few days. Take today: There’s a U.S. curling match scheduled for CNBC at 5 p.m., and judging by yesterday, curling matches seem to take three hours. And yet the Sweden-Germany hockey game begins at 7:30 p.m. As for MSNBC, they’re running the women’s hockey game of Sweden-Canada at 5:30, which could be over close to 7:30, but might not. So thus, we’ll probably miss the beginning of the Sweden game tonight. And the same exact dilemma occurs the following evening with the Canada-Switzerland game. Oh, and we could miss the beginning of tomorrow night’s Russia-Slovakia game because the China-Russia women’s game, starting at 10, may not wrap up by midnight (as happened last night, although NBC only missed a minute.) Either NBC was stupid and didn’t calculate the running time of their events properly, or they just don’t care

  10. leafsfan1967 says:

    ScottyWazz :At the same time, why would an American company be chomping at the bit to show another country over their country, shellacking or not. They’re going to focus on the American teams, even if the host country is playing in their opening game in what is the biggest sport in the country.
    There has to be a lot of jockeying with sponsorships and what-not as well, who knows when certain spots are supposed to show with certain events.
    I’d be offended if a broadcaster dropped an event my country was participating in for a country that is not mine. The NBC interest is for the USA, not any other country.

    Scotty, there is no question that NBC takes the USA first approach and I understand that. But there is another way. While Canadian coverage showcases Canadians you also get to see a lot more live action and you get to see way more action that features countries other than Canada. To be sure the main CTV network has a clear focus on what Canadians are doing but they have a whole lineup of other cable networks that are showing way more of the Olympics than NBC ever does.

    All we are saying here is that NBC messed up badly with hockey coverage yesterday and there is every expectation that this will continue to happen.

  11. JFein says:

    And then both networks as a whole missed 5 minutes of the game as MSNBC went to Countdown with Keith Olbermann at 8 PM and CNBC took an extended commercial break, thus leaving us without any hockey on TV for 5 minutes.

    I never expect NBC to be particularly good at anything, but their Olympics coverage has been bad even for them.

  12. Colligan says:

    Agree and disagree on this one. Hockey is a cult sport with a dedicated following amongst it’s fans (like us). For that reason, it’s fans will hunt down the games at any time and on any channel, and I mean any channel (Outdoor Life Network right?) How many people will hunt down moguls on CNBC? Yet if you stick moguls on NBC in primetime, plenty will watch. As much as it seems like hockey should get more recognition and priority, it makes more sense to double-up their audience with hockey on a fringe network.

    From a bigger picture, ScottyWazz hit the nail on the head. USA will get precedence regardless of game situation or sport. Unless it’s something involving a gold medal, people want to see the USA. Skipping part of the first period of a Canada game will only antagonize a small contingent of Canadians in the USA, and the hockey die-hards who will watch the tournament regardless of how many times you slap them in the face. They’ll find it down online if they really want to watch that badly.

    As far as moving it over to the main network, I think that’s the least likely option. There’s a big reason they tape delay everything to plug it into that 8pm time slot.

  13. DyHrdMET says:

    I realized these scheduling conflicts a few weeks ago and posted a comment on one of your older posts. I was watching the end of the curling match at 7:30 waiting for the link to appear so I could watch the hockey game online, and even that was posted late.

    I don’t mind NBC sending Curling and Hockey to cable. It’s actually a smart move on their part (and I think they should have also had cable coverage for the other sports instead of trying to crowd them onto the NBC network). And they do have some conflicts – MSNBC primetime news, CNBC daytime business, and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on CNBC monday night and USA tuesday night this week. Having the few games on the NBC network would be better if they weren’t tape delaying it for the west coast (but that’s a whole other story).

    Staying with a blowout (the USA women’s hockey game) or a close match (the USA women’s Curling match) is correct in both cases. Honor the completion of a game/match before moving to the start of the next one. You can never count on either one on any given night, and we have this problem twice a night. They had poor communication as far as the joined in progress start of the game on MSNBC.

    But promoting an 8pm ET start for the 7:35pm ET faceoff, and a 12:30am ET start for a 12:05am ET faceoff is just wrong, and not scheduling enough channels to be able to show all of these events is even worse (they’re leaving some Curling matches and Monday night’s women’s hockey game untelevised this week as well). They have more cable channels (Bravo, Oxygen, and UniversalHD), and they’ve used them for summer olympics. They could have easily made Bravo available the past two nights and USA available on other nights to show Olympics when it was too much for CNBC. But they didn’t.

    NBC is the NHL’s TV partner, but if the NHL is trying to watch this coverage, maybe they need to rethink that partnership.

  14. leafsfan1967 says:

    In fairness to the NBC Olympic website, the link was up around 7:35 and didn’t miss the puck drop.

  15. leafsfan1967 says:

    >>NBC is the NHL’s TV partner, but if the NHL is trying to watch this coverage, maybe they need to rethink that partnership.

    I agree with this but I’m not sure what option the NHL has. With respect to the Olympics, if ABC and ESPN had the games the picture might be better for hockey fans but we can’t be sure about that.

  16. John says:

    leafsfan1967 :>>NBC is the NHL’s TV partner, but if the NHL is trying to watch this coverage, maybe they need to rethink that partnership.
    I agree with this but I’m not sure what option the NHL has. With respect to the Olympics, if ABC and ESPN had the games the picture might be better for hockey fans but we can’t be sure about that.

    I dont think it would. How many networks does Dinsey have? ABC, ESPN1,2,classic, and news I guess. I dont think they’d put any games on ABC Family. It would be interesting though I guess.

    Either way, I’m one of those people that say stay with game until the final no matter what the score is. I noticed when waiting for Russian game to start that NBCU was using the CTV feed of the women’s game. Maybe it was something similar with one of the other times.

  17. DyHrdMET says:

    I’m just suggesting that if NBC doesn’t treat the Olympic Ice Hockey with respect (and clearly, they haven’t), then what respect will NBC show the NHL? I expected more from the league’s US TV partner, as opposed to a different network.

  18. leafsfan1967 says:

    DyHrdMET :I’m just suggesting that if NBC doesn’t treat the Olympic Ice Hockey with respect (and clearly, they haven’t), then what respect will NBC show the NHL? I expected more from the league’s US TV partner, as opposed to a different network.

    And with this I totally agree. It could be worse…the games could be on Versus…. Perish the thought….

  19. Colligan says:

    DyHrdMET :
    I’m just suggesting that if NBC doesn’t treat the Olympic Ice Hockey with respect (and clearly, they haven’t), then what respect will NBC show the NHL? I expected more from the league’s US TV partner, as opposed to a different network.

    I think NBC may have already showed their respect for the NHL when they signed a TV contract extension through 2010-11 which included a $0.00 fee for broadcasting rights.

  20. ScottyWazz says:

    leafsfan1967 :

    ScottyWazz :At the same time, why would an American company be chomping at the bit to show another country over their country, shellacking or not. They’re going to focus on the American teams, even if the host country is playing in their opening game in what is the biggest sport in the country.
    There has to be a lot of jockeying with sponsorships and what-not as well, who knows when certain spots are supposed to show with certain events.
    I’d be offended if a broadcaster dropped an event my country was participating in for a country that is not mine. The NBC interest is for the USA, not any other country.

    Scotty, there is no question that NBC takes the USA first approach and I understand that. But there is another way. While Canadian coverage showcases Canadians you also get to see a lot more live action and you get to see way more action that features countries other than Canada. To be sure the main CTV network has a clear focus on what Canadians are doing but they have a whole lineup of other cable networks that are showing way more of the Olympics than NBC ever does.
    All we are saying here is that NBC messed up badly with hockey coverage yesterday and there is every expectation that this will continue to happen.

    I love CTV/TSN/Sportsnet/OLN’s coverage, but it also has me Olympic’d out already. I’ll say that while they do a great job of live coverage, the problem is the repeats all the time when I flip the channel to one or another. It’s like, downhill gets done on OLN, but then it’s on right again when I flip to Sportsnet. It’s a little redundant, but love the job by CTV thus far.

  21. Rindu Muncie says:

    “what respect will NBC show the NHL? ”

    What respect WILL NBC show? They already don’t show any. Case in point: One of the best elite teams of the NHL the last several seasons, the San Jose Sharks, have yet to appear on an NHL on NBC National Game of the Week in the regular season. They could win 5 cups in a row and NBC will still not allow then on a National Game of the Week, let alone a Winter Classic. Don’t know why people would think Olympic hockey would somehow be treated better. If they aren’t going to show the Sharks ever on a national broadcast, they aren’t going to give much priority to a hockey game not involving Team USA.

  22. John says:

    leafsfan1967 :

    DyHrdMET :I’m just suggesting that if NBC doesn’t treat the Olympic Ice Hockey with respect (and clearly, they haven’t), then what respect will NBC show the NHL? I expected more from the league’s US TV partner, as opposed to a different network.

    And with this I totally agree. It could be worse…the games could be on Versus…. Perish the thought….

    The 2014 games probably will be.

  23. kevin says:

    This coverage is terrible. They need a HOCKEY CHANNEL!!! And a Curling Channel!!! Give the hockey games to Versus or somthing…If I tune in to watch hockey one more time and I see Curling I am going to snap! It’s bad enough the USA games are in the afternoon but NBC won’t even let you watch them online without a secret password????? The NHL should stay out of the Olympics from now on…I am totally ok with that now!!

    • DyHrdMET says:

      A hockey channel wouldn’t necessarily fix everything because Women’s hockey at one point overlaps with Men’s hockey. Unless they had one for Men’s and one for Women’s. It doesn’t really matter where they put the games, it’s how they work their broadcast schedule around the event schedule with regards to how many channels they may need at any given time.

      NBC and the whole premium access thing to their streams is just a bad idea, but probably another way for them to make some money (and glad it’s not being passed on to the customer). A week before the games started, I went to view an archived game under the premium section and my Comcast account was all messed up. Fixed just in time, otherwise I’d really be screaming.

      I would love to see a pre-training camp tournament like the World Cup or Canada’s Cup every other year, or the International championships moved from May/June to September so all players can participate, but this is what we get. Next time when the NHLers aren’t playing, the only loss is losing Doc Emrick from Devils game for 3 weeks.

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