The NHL TV Set, Part 2: Two Network Split, Because the Baseball Network Worked So Well
January 14, 2009 3 Comments
Editor’s Note: This is part two of our four-part series, The NHL TV Set, in which we speculate on alternate scenarios for the National Hocke League on broadcast television, where we believe the league can thrive.
NBC is probably in between FOX and ABC on the list of “Best NHL Network partners”, because they show more games than ABC, and show more playoff games than FOX did, but they don’t promote the spot with any of the ferocity that FOX did, so they finish a close second.
My only other real beef with the Peacock network is that the games aren’t shown with the consistency necessary to keep the NHL visible in the eyes of the public. So this is my suggestion today: Use a two-network system, between CBS and NBC, to keep the NHL on every week from January until the Stanley Cup Finals, giving the league and their partners a chance to tell a story throughout the games each week.
CBS, having little going on on weekends after football season, would mix in hockey games on Saturdays and Sundays with it’s college basketball coverage. Show off how the rivalries in hockey are comparable to many college battles throughout the nation, and maybe a few extra folks will flock to it. NBC keeps it’s Sunday “Game of the Week” package with six games beginning in March.
Pre-Game Show: NHL Network/NHL.com will produce a half-hour pre-game show prior to each NBC or CBS telecast, and it’d be more or less your standard regional network’s pre-game show.
Game Coverage: See Above for most of the big details, but CBS would air a game after their 12PM College Basketball game at 2:30 or 3PM from mid-January until the end of February, and NBC would get it’s Sunday, 12:30 PM package.
Personalities: NBC obviously keeps it’s current hockey department on the job, but CBS would need some people. How about the hottest and most exciteable voice in sports TV today, Gus Johnson? That’ll give hoops fans who enjoy his brand of crazy a chance to hear him call a sport that lends itself to crazy. Bill Clement is an analyst who can carry a telecast for someone who might be a bit of a hockey neophyte like Johnson, and former ESPN reporter Sam Ryan is at ice level. James Brown returns to hockey to host a studio show with analysts Jim Dowd and Mike Eruzione.
Playoffs and Finals: CBS will get Saturday playoff games, and NBC will televise games on Sundays. The weekends in which major golf tourneys, like The Masters on CBS or the TPC on NBC, force them to cover golf all day, on network will take both dates. The networks will alternate coverage of the Winter Classic and the Stanley Cup Finals.
I doubt the logistics could really work here, but I’ve always argued that the NHL needed a more consistent presence on TV. I think this would do it, despite changing networks mid-stream. They’re both big enough names that it wouldn’t matter.