Helping Grow NHL Net is Nice… But When the NHL Has An Event, It Needs to Be With Broadcast Partners

The NHL spent a lot of time (and assumedly, money) promoting last night’s 4-3 shootout victory by the Washington Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The game featured otherworldly stars like Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Jordan Staal, Jose Theodore… well, those other guys for sure.  The point is, this game’s become a heated rivalry, a playoff-tested rivalry and the NHL has every right to promote the living daylights out of it.

Except, when it’s on the NHL Network, using a feed from Comcast Sportsnet… it can’t help but feel a little cheap.  Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin and all of those guys do a fine job for their viewers, but the fact is, the NHL Network took time out of both nationally broadcast and locally broadcast NHL games to promote this, and the NHL fan can’t even get a crew that won’t potentially have a tendency to talk more to one audience?

More on NHL Network later.  The league and NBC/VERSUS need to get something in their head: As much as we complain about being condescended to about how great the Penguins, Red Wings and Capitals are… fact is, that’s who we all tune in to see.  The ratings from Tuesday night’s Detroit/Pittsburgh game show that viewers are far from tired of the Wings/Pens matchup.  A 1.3 for Pens/Caps, a regular season high for the rivalry, on NBC shows that the Crosby/Ovechkin fire is just starting to burn smoothly.

My point is… don’t worry about overexposing it, all four Pens/Caps games should be on NBC or VERSUS.  VERSUS does not air one of these games until the last week of the season, and didn’t air a Pens/Caps game at all the season before.  Why not?  Get these games on as much as possible.  Especially with all the buzz that’s been happening around the rivalry, they should’ve capitalized on Wings/Pens momentum and aimed higher for tonight.  They’ve been showing so many games lately, why not?

But that’s another complaint for another day.  Fact is, there needs to be better coverage from the NHL Network.  Aside from the World Junior Championship games featuring Team USA, the NHL Network has not produced a second of original coverage of a live hockey game this season.  They still haven’t given a shot to doing the NBATV trick where they impose their own graphics over the local broadcast, and sometimes you can’t help but feel a little cheated by this.

I’m sure the network will grow to that place.  But, after a season in 2008-09 where they started producing their own games and doing more, and when they had an hour-long pre-game show in that nice studio of theirs, you come to expect just a little bit more growth.  I’m certain they’ll get there, it’s just disappointing to see that it wasn’t happening in a week with so much buzz.

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About stevelepore
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

4 Responses to Helping Grow NHL Net is Nice… But When the NHL Has An Event, It Needs to Be With Broadcast Partners

  1. Trent says:

    NBA TV used regional feeds for years for its games. Later it used regional feeds, but used its own graphics. I think beginning last year their deal with TNT = own productions of games on NBATV. So the far more successful tv product league did the same thing.

    I do hear what you are saying though, but the network doesn’t bring in enough revenue to justify that yet.

  2. kevin says:

    Would have been nice to watch but FIOS didn’t pick up the free NHL Network feed. Can’t blame the NHL…I mean it was free and available to just about anybody else

  3. Patrick says:

    now they are using TSN’s sportscenter show…who are they kidding…it makes Duff look silly. Baseball highlights in the back drop…lol….while the small banner says brian duff…nhl network….with another set of color graphics….boy they like to show all their lame graphics and different colors…STILL LOOKS CHEAP!

  4. Mike in Idaho says:

    The game’s the thing, I think. I don’t care if they use their own feed or use someone else’s as long as the camera angles and directing are good.

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