What Other Cable Networks Would You Like to See Hockey On?

Last year, we did a piece called The TV Set, where set out four different plans about how the NHL could change it’s station on broadcast television.

Well, next week, we’re going to be doing another four-parter, about where the next home of the NHL on cable should be, and then a larger VERSUS post on Friday, talking about how we’d remodel the network’s coverage.

What American cable channels would you like to see NHL hockey on?

11 Responses to What Other Cable Networks Would You Like to See Hockey On?

  1. Michael says:

    I think you have to throw out the ESPN family, because that’s been discussed to death. You also have to throw out the top tier (USA, TNT, etc) that would have no realistic interest in adding hockey, along with any networks that are less available than Versus. So I’d focus on mid-tier channels that tend to lean toward the male demo. The two that immediately come to mind would be Spike and FX…

  2. Jason says:

    I’m torn between ESPN and TNT for differing reasons.

    Being back on ESPN, even if it was for a secondary deal, would put the league back on its radar there and would increase its buzz. However, between all of ESPN’s other commitments, the NHL would need to compete with college football, college basketball, the NBA, and (during the playoffs) MLB and they’d end up with the short end of the stick. A couple games a week and maybe some assorted games in the early round of the playoffs would work just fine.

    TNT has worked well with the NBA for 2 decades and the NHL has the same if not more drama as it does. Yes, you’ll tick off Law & Order fans and the logsitcs of cross-border TV rights would boot out Canadian teams, but if they could get it to work it could be interesting to see since it reaches more homes than Versus. Only problem would be come playoff time where the NBA would have obvious priority.

  3. snovalleyhockeyfan says:

    ESPN certainly comes to mind for many, I included, but how about FX or Fox Sports Net? After all, they could just use combos of the local FSN crews (broadcast/production) to do the broadcasts, and that would save money. And there are some good local announcers on the FSN stable of networks, has anybody heard of Bob Miller, Ken Daniels, Dave Strader or John Kelly?

  4. Dirk Hoag says:

    It would probably be a mess with all the other contracts, but I think getting the Blackhawks on WGN’s nationwide feed (like the NBA’s Bulls) could be a useful move.

  5. Eric says:

    Some other channels I’d like to see hockey on instead of VS (Comcast):

    TBS (Time Warner) – I think they can replace some syndicated Family Guy and The Office episodes with a hockey game every once in a while.

    TNT (Time Warner) – How about instead of showing that horrible Batman and Robin movie with Mr. Freeze they show a hockey game once in a while?

    NHL Network (NHL, Comcast) – The NFL has exclusive games on their network, why can’t the NHL? I know they show HNIC broadcasts already, but I want some exclusive games. At the very least, it would limit the number of times they can air a Penguins-Red Wings Cup Final game from the last two years.

    USA Network (NBC Universal) – Their slogan is “Characters Welcome.” Who better than hockey players? I’m pretty sure hockey players have the widest range of character among any group of athletes in all of sports.

    ESPN (Disney) is pretty low on the list. I’m not even sure they would be better for the NHL than VS. Although, Erin Andrews>>>>>>>Chris Simpson

  6. Rob Hoffmann says:

    Ideally, you’d want a deal where broadcast and cable rights were combined, as that makes for much easier cross-marketing. Right now, NBC and Versus only promote each other’s games during games — which really doesn’t reach the non-core audience very well. Of course, if Comcast and NBC/Universal combine, that problem would be solved. šŸ™‚

    That said, it would be great to get the games on ABC/ESPN, even if it meant most games were on ESPN2 (which is in pretty much every household ESPN is in). Since ABC is just ESPN’s third network anyway, it’d be the same look, same production staff, same announcers… simple. Of course, it won’t happen. šŸ™‚

    Assuming no Comcast/NBC merger, NBC/USA would also work. USA has learned from WWE that “sports” can bring ratings, so why not real sports? And it’s not like USA has a lot of original programming during the fall/winter — they do all of their original series in the summer.

    They could try SpikeTV with CBS – and with Spike still the defacto “men’s network”, hockey would fit, wouldn’t it? They could try crossmarketing the NHL to the UFC crowd… šŸ™‚

    And FX management has gone on record that they need a sports property to grow the network — so FX/FOX (as noted by snovalleyhockey fan, this would bring the Fox Sports regional broadcasters into play) would certainly be worth a look.

    TBS/TNT certainly have a lot of households, but the NHL doesn’t really fit them. And they don’t have a broadcast partner (which isn’t bad, but which – to me – makes them less viable).

    Beyond that — there really are no general-entertainment networks where the NHL could get an audience. The only other option is for one of the conglomerates to use the NHL to rebrand an existing network, or create a new one, and we all remember SportsChannel America, don’t we? šŸ™‚

    A split-network deal like the NBA has with ESPN/Turner would be difficult — it works for the NBA because they have, frankly, a more popular property. But if the NHL can find the right partners — and I think one would almost have to be ESPN — it could work.

    • Kevin says:

      I would like to see the next NHL TV deal with the following: A contract split into thirds. One third paid by a Network, (ABC, CBS, FOX etc.) and the other two thirds split with two cable channels. VS does a great job and
      I think they could share the product (through cross promotion) with the likes of ESPN, FX or TBS.

  7. Eric says:

    Spike might also be a good one, but they’ve tried sports there before and it failed. Personally, the only time I watch Spike is when I’m flipping through channels late at night and they have 1000 ways to die or Manswers on.

  8. E says:

    I think one idea that was mentioned last year was the CW. I would love to see the CW get into the hockey business. I know the network skews towards women, but, the NHL would bring a whole new audience. Monday night Hockey would be great. Put a national game on every MOnday night at 8pm.
    It would really grow the network.

    Also, I like Versus. I think they do a great job. You know every Monday and Tuesday night you get a game. I would like to see a better color commentator than Ed Olyzyck. He is boring. THey need someone like Jeremy Roenick. He would be great as the #1 analyst (for both Versus and NBC).

    I never ever want to see the NHL back on ESPN. THey dont give a crap about hockey. I guarantee if the NHL goes back to ESPN, there may be 3 games televised before the end of football season.
    Between college and pro football, there is absolutely no room for the NHL on their network. They have college football on Tuesday and Wednesday night.
    They would have to put the games on ESPN classic. And, that would even be a step down from Versus!

  9. TheWestWing says:

    Honestly if not ESPN than I really don’t see anybody doing a different\’better’ job than what VS is doing. Unless its a network doing some type of sports (ala TBS or TNT), I don’t think hockey should be a networks beta sport. Guess it would really depend if they wanted to get the sport and mature it with ample marketing and production efforts, of use it as a loss leader to get eyeballs.

  10. Alex says:

    Not ESPN. Probably FX or Spike TV. FX could work since its Fox.
    In fact, when the NBC contract runs out, the league should just go for Fox in full. Fox local, FX, FSN. The whole thing. It already works well on FSN.

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