Some of NBC’s Regional Choices Puzzling
February 15, 2012 7 Comments
There’s currently a map available over at my friends The 506’s website for the 12:30 p.m. ET game on Hockey Day in America, giving a pretty clear cut display of who will get what game for the first part of NBC and NBC Sports Network’s triple-header to celebrate the game across the country. I recommend you visit it and take a look, because it will help you figure out which game you’re getting and which games you’ll be headed to NBCSports.com to watch.
Now, this next part is gonna’ sound like complaining, because it is. I like NBC doing the regional games occasionally, because I think it could be good for the sport to get more and more teams on network television. I understand the idea of the Game of the Week, but I think seeing the option to show a few more teams a year without risking poor ratings could not only provide more exposure to those teams, but also serve as a litmus test for which teams are ready for prime-time, single Game of the Week status in future years.
Still, I think I have a little bit of a problem with just how much of the country is going to see Sharks-Red Wings. Now, first let’s get out of the way the due diligence that you have to pay to the Red Wings and their fans: there are a lot of you, and many of you are spread out across the country. But one could argue that’s the same for the rest of the teams featured in the 12:30 slot, save perhaps the Sharks. I have no problem with Detroit and San Jose, as there are no other games close to the Bay Area, airing from Michigan to California, save obviously Chicago and St. Louis. I’m fine with it being the so-called ‘A’ game going to a majority of people. Right now, Sharks-Red Wings is a top three matchup, while St. Louis-Chicago features a godawful Blackhawks team, and the Sabres are dead in the water and limited to a local ratings threat.
However, it seems that some of our friends on the east coast may have been shafted by the choices made. First of all, Washington and Baltimore: those cities, and the Caps fans (and hell, the Flyers fans that live there too) are probably the biggest rivals of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Don’t you think they’d rather be watching Penguins-Sabres on TV? Especially since, to humor Buffalo fans, the Sabres are one of the teams chasing along with the Capitals for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. I think Penguins-Sabres, even without Sidney Crosby, should extend to every Eastern Conference market. NBC has decided the entire southeastern part of the country will see the Red Wings.
The only other problem I have is maybe with some of the other midwestern markets. I’ll ask this question, since I don’t know: wouldn’t Blues-Blackhawks be a more attractive option than Sharks-Red Wings in Nashville and Memphis, or is the number of Red Wings fans so overwhelming that it’s the obvious choice? How about in Dallas and the rest of Texas, where the Stars are often paired as regional rivals with the Blues? What about in Miami, where half of the team is former Blackhawks?
Anyway, again, this is all nitpicking, but I think the folks in Washington and Baltimore have a legitimate gripe should they choose to hold one. You should always show the game that is most attractive in a particular market, and that includes rivals. As much as they may hate Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury, wouldn’t folks in Washington and the rest of the East rather be watching them on Sunday than Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Joe Pavelski? Especially after that awful long-range goal he scored on the Caps on Monday, that is.