How the MLB Network took About 2 Hours to Become Better than NHL Network
January 2, 2009 1 Comment
On a day when hockey went into a baseball team’s territory and put on a show, it should be noted that baseball went into the territory of the three other major sports leagues in entering the world of 24-hour cable channels.
It’s remarkable that the NBA, NFL and somehow the NHL have gotten this running in the U.S. before the Major Leagues did, but the best was certainly saved for last. MLB Network, in it’s first two programs, became better than all four of them, and should serve as a guide to NHL Network, NFL Network and NBA TV as far as how this should be done.
First of all, the studios are glorious salutes to both the game and modern technology. The studio show features analysts, reporters and insiders all with an in-look at what’s going on around the world of baseball. The Don Larsen perfect game was fascinating to watch, complete with Bob Costas interviewing Yogi Berra and Larsen himself (Bob was all over TV yesterday). For someone who’s tired of baseball over the last few years, this reinvigorates the spirit of even the most disconnected fan.
So the question is: How does the NHL match it? Well, I’m glad you asked. We have a few suggestions after the jump.
1. New Studio. Now, if not Sooner.
MLB Network’s digs in Secaucas, NJ (about 10 minutes away from us) are state-of-the-art, folks. They make the NHL Network’s studio in Toronto look downright rinky-dink. NHL Network needs to head to New York, or at least a better Toronto facility, to find a structure that not only incorporates futuristic technology, but celebrates the heritage of the game. We want Studio 99!
2. A Little More Conversation on “On the Fly”
“On the Fly” is a nice little show, with it’s highlights and analysis. But, it’s a little dull. It could use some more high profile analysts. MLB Network went out and got an established name (Harold Reynolds) and some up-and-comers (Al Leiter and Barry Larkin) to make it’s studio team chatty and opinionated. Bring in Pierre McGuire and Brett Hull once he’s fired, and Ray Ferraro and John Tortorella. Dave Reid and Larry Murphy aren’t getting it done for me.
3. Inside Info
NHL Network simulcasts TSN’s Trade Deadline and UFA show, but there needs to be more done. MLB Net hired longtime baseball writers/insiders Jon Heyman and Tom Verducci. Let’s get Mike Russo on TV. Hell, Larry Brooks and Al Strachan and Scott Morrison and Pierre LeBrun deserve a call. Why isn’t Bob McKenzie given his own show? The NHL Network needs to cater to the Hockeybuzz crowd, or “people who will pay money to read anything”.
Look, there is a real charm and appeal to NHL Network that makes fans love it, especially those in America. But there is more they can be doing. The MLB Network showed that off in about two hours last night.