In A Tough Call For VERSUS, Other NBC/Comcast Networks Should Be Used As Overflow
April 14, 2011 32 Comments
It is everything that we imagine as hockey fans: playoff overtime. This is one of the things that is undeniably appealing about the sport, even to someone who has no understanding of it. The game becomes simple: score a goal, the game is over. If there are no goals, the game goes on … and on, and on, and on. Even as games head into second, third and potentially fourth overtimes, the game remains fascinating, a study in attrition, in just how much energy the best athletes on earth can expend until one of them slows down just enough to let another of them get the break they need to win it.
So, it is without surprise that – despite showing only the third period before it – VERSUS’ “Joined in Progress” broadcast of Rangers/Capitals from Comcast Sportsnet was followed into overtime, preempting in every market aside from New York and Washington, the entire first period of the Chicago/Vancouver back-end of the doubleheader, which featured original VERSUS production. Anyone outside of those two markets, and obviously Chicago, missed the only two goals scored of the game, both in the first period from Vancouver.
The two questions are: 1. was VERSUS right to do so? and 2. What can be done to fix it?
The first question is likely that VERSUS made the correct call. As annoyed as I imagine some might be to miss out on those two Vancouver goals, VERSUS has to chase what will get it higher ratings, something that can be difficult to do in the early rounds, when most of the time the local markets are shut out. Since they don’t have any local markets to be loyal to in Round 1 (save Phoenix last night) there’s not really a reason for them not to continue through an overtime featuring an Original Six team and one of the league’s biggest individual stars.
So what do we do about the second question, as far as what can VERSUS do about it? One of the readers commented last night that there was an overflow channel available to him, it was kept blacked out for last night. Even if it was in use for some people last night (I don’t have the channel) shouldn’t there be a better option for the over-flow of games?
Here’s a suggestion, though I’m sure one that would face obstacles: use one of the many Comcast/NBC networks that are now in cahoots with VERSUS since the merger. Honestly, what is the Golf Channel doing at 10PM ET? How about Universal Sports, which isn’t in as many homes as VERSUS, but is often in need of live programming? Heck, can’t the E! Channel put some hockey on? Their news editor, Ken Baker, wrote a hockey book once. There’s a ton of networks in the NBC/Comcast stable, why can’t one of them be used for a period or two of hockey every now and then?
The fact is, when you could watch the Rangers/Capitals game on three separate outlets (VERSUS, Center Ice and Game Center Live), there was no way of watching Blackhawks/Canucks on any such outlet. That is a complete disservice to the hardcore hockey fans, and something needs to be done about overflow content in the next television contract, if it can’t be fixed within this post-season.