Columnist I Generally Like Creates Fake Controversy Between Networks

From Damien Cox of The Star:

It’s a tussle nearly as intriguing as the Habs-Flyers series that will continue Saturday afternoon at the Bell Centre.

Who will win? NBC? RDS? CBC? It’s going to be a fascinating window into the priority given to the various networks by the NHL.

All three, you see, would like to have dibs on the ice-level broadcasting position between the benches for Game 3. NBC uses Pierre Maguire there, CBC uses Glenn Healy. RDS sometimes uses former NHLer Joel Bouchard.

It’s a spot without a lot of wiggle room since the setup forces the Montreal backup goalie into the same area.

Here’s the intrigue. RDS has the No. 1 position for tomorrow’s game, which mean they get first choice of everything, from interviews to camera positions, etc.

NBC, however, is arguing that having an analyst between the benches is a staple of their broadcasts. The NHL, of course, has spent years courting the various U.S. networks in hopes of landing a rich deal, although the current deal with NBC is anything but that.

NBC will absolutely win here.  Do you think RDS and CBC would have a 3PM Saturday game if they had any choice in the matter?

17 Responses to Columnist I Generally Like Creates Fake Controversy Between Networks

  1. Josh says:

    What does his line about “RDS has the No. 1 position” mean? Is it like a possession arrow in basketball that goes back and forth after someone has taken their turn, or does it have to do with which arena the game is in…?

    And, if this “No. 1 position” thing actually exists, wouldn’t you think they’d have something about who gets the between the benches spot written into the broadcast contract?

    • Scotty Hockey says:

      It does exist. It means that they are the physical main broadcaster. All camera feeds run through their truck and most of the cameramen in the building will be working for RDS, shooting what and who RDS wants. Usually it goes to the home broadcaster (like MSG in NY) while the away broadcaster can only cherry pick from them and add maybe one or two of their own cameras.

  2. leafsfan1967 says:

    Of course NBC will win the “fight for position” that despite the fact that they will end up with the smallest audience of the three networks.

  3. Jeremy says:

    The number 1 position thing certainly exists and has been in use throughout the playoffs so far. During the Canadiens first round series against Washington, Pierre McGuire was only allowed “between the benches” for the games in Washington. When the series shifted to Montreal, Joel Bouchard of RDS took his position “between the benches” and McGuire joined Gord Miller in the broadcast booth.

    In the second round against Pittsburgh (and so far in the third round against Philadelphia), CBC’s Glenn Healy has been broadcasting from behind the net in Montreal because of Bouchard’s presence “between the benches”.

  4. Colton says:

    I dont understand why people are complaining. The NHL is maximizing their viewership. If the games were at night, Versus would get probably 60% of the audience that NBC would get. CBC might get a little more viewers, but I don’t think it would make up the difference.

    The NHL doesn’t own anything to anybody. It’s their product, they can do whatever they want. CBC/TSN knew full well that NBC would get the priority, yet they still signed the contracts.

    Cmon people. Smarten up.

  5. Jeremy says:

    Smarten up? For anyone who actually looks at the stats, the six evening games of the Canadiens-Penguins averaged 2,927,167 viewers on CBC. The one afternoon game only drew 1,666,000. That’s a 43% drop!

    Similar stats on RDS: The six evening games drew an average of 1,829,167. The one afternoon game drew only 1,247,000. That’s a 32% drop!

    Combined, CBC and RDS lost 1,843,334 viewers for the afternoon telecast – that’s more than NBC got for its broadcast.

  6. leafsfan1967 says:

    Jeremy :Smarten up? For anyone who actually looks at the stats, the six evening games of the Canadiens-Penguins averaged 2,927,167 viewers on CBC. The one afternoon game only drew 1,666,000. That’s a 43% drop!
    Similar stats on RDS: The six evening games drew an average of 1,829,167. The one afternoon game drew only 1,247,000. That’s a 32% drop!
    Combined, CBC and RDS lost 1,843,334 viewers for the afternoon telecast – that’s more than NBC got for its broadcast.

    Well said! NBC gets the star billing, pulls the fewest fans and pays the smallest amount of money. Which is how Bettmann world works….

  7. Colton says:

    You must remember that the afternoon game was game one of the series. The average numbers are way inflated due to a 7 game series. Had the game one been played at night I think it would have done 2 million on CBC and maybe 1.5 million on RDS. An extra 600,000 viewers probably doesn’t make up the difference between versus and NBC.

    What do you think the difference would be in game 4 played in the afternoon and a game 4 played at night on the CBC and RDS?

  8. Jeremy says:

    Colton, the afternoon was actually game two of the series. Game one, played on the Friday night, drew 2,476,000 on CBC and 1,509,000 on RDS. So we’re still taking about a collective loss of over 1 million viewers on both CBC and RDS. I think this more than makes up the difference between VS and NBC.

    And, for the record, game one of the Canadiens-Flyers series was viewed by an average of 2,776,000 on CBC and 1,655,000 on RDS. We’ll see how these numbers compare with those for tomorrow afternoon’s game . . .

  9. NWM says:

    I’ve never understood why the NHL bends over backwards for the American networks. Any game I have had the unfortunate opportunity to watch on NBC/ABC/FOX has been so bad that I have to turn off the volume or stop watching altogether. If the NHL wants to sell the game to the American audience then they need a network that will present the game properly. Blabbering on like a male version of The View while the game is being played is not how you win hockey fans.

  10. leafsfan1967 says:

    >>Blabbering on like a male version of The View while the game is being played is >>not how you win hockey fans.

    Well said!

  11. Gumper says:

    Its a stupid arrogant decision by NBC to dictate they want the game on in the afternoon. The timing is horrible — it competes with many baseball games, basketball and people out doing things. Instead they keep their prime time for apparently more important shows. Funny how NBC can do evening football games though.

    I could care less if they broadcast the games.

    Good for RDS to have the number one position. But as you point out, this is the BHL (Bettman Hockey League), where I predict NBC will win the battle despite having less viewers.

    But this trend has been common here in the US since the late 60’s and 70’s. As I recall CBS used to do the Sunday afternoon game of the week.

    • Josh says:

      Gumper :it competes with many baseball games, basketball and people out doing things. Instead they keep their prime time for apparently more important shows. Funny how NBC can do evening football games though.

      Actually, both of the NBA conference final games on this weekend are on in prime time – at 8:30 Eastern. And the interesting thing about it is that they’re both on cable instead of broadcast (Saturday’s game is on ESPN, Sunday’s on TNT) to have them air in prime time.

      In that context, the NHL looks stubborn. If the bigger cousin (at least in terms of TV ratings) isn’t afraid of games on cable in prime time, why is the NHL?

  12. Jeremy says:

    Gumper :Instead they keep their prime time for apparently more important shows.

    You’ve hit the nail right on the head: Afternoon games aren’t about maximizing NHL audiences – they’re about sacrificing NHL audiences so NBC can get better evening ratings with non-hockey programming.

    • Josh says:

      Can you really blame them, though? I mean, NBC has a deep bench when it comes to highly-rated prime time programming.

      /sarcasm

  13. Stu Dolgon says:

    Can it be that NBC originated the concept of Behind the Glass so it gets first crack?

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