Archive for the ‘NBC’ Category

How could ESPN be any worse for the NHL than NBC? Tell me. Honestly.

April 19, 2009

Is there any doubt remaining that the NHL needs NBC like a shotgun blast to the head?

The latest in a murderer’s row of terrible PR moves comes with NBC deciding to cockblock the Penguins’ savvy and fan-friendly tradition of allowing people to watch games on a Big Screen outside of Mellon Arena. It was a bottom line-based decision, as the marginal loss in ratings would be too much for the soul-less suits at NBC to stomach.

But in such a marginal ratings grab, couldn’t NBC impress advertisers by showing how much of an “event” their telecasts can be? At this point, it is pretty obvious that hockey games are a largely regional affair. Is a fraction of a decimal point really worth it for NBC, when they can show advertisers that they have an engaged audience?

Or is this just a case of “any press being good press?” Does the constant insulting of the NHL – from moving a heated OT playoff game off the network for a horse race preview show to showing no hint of consistency to slapping hockey fans in the face at every turn – not tell you everything you need to know about this “partnership?”

Hockey fans are the ground beneath the feet of out of touch executives. For every good move – putting the incomparable “Razor” Reaugh on national telecasts – there’s a counter-move of imbecility.

People bash the idea of ESPN covering hockey, but the four-letter network would bring plenty more to the table than NBC. At this point, ESPN’s in a ton of households and would do a much better job of raising awareness for their NHL games (as Puck Daddy and others have stated, the network is a self-promoting brand obsessed whore at this point). You have to be a hardcore hockey fan to be able to follow NBC’s on-again off-again regular season schedule. Honestly, even I was surprised that the network was carrying the Washington-New York Rangers game this afternoon.

You get the feeling that Bucci cares more about hockey than everyone at NBC combined.

Yes, it’s clear that hockey isn’t a ratings force to be reckoned with, but it’s also clear that the league is making baby steps to regain traction with American audiences. If the league isn’t happy with just being a big fish in a little sea, then why not at least stick with a big unfeeling corporate entity that knows how to market the product?

I’d rather have the league give up its shitty, joke of a national TV partner in NBC for the corporate, sports culture dominating behemoth in ESPN. Even if it means going from network TV to cable.

Could ESPN be any worse than NBC?

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Afternoon Cycle: Sometimes we’re wrong (except about NBC)

April 6, 2009

A few concessions are in order this afternoon.

  • First, it looks like the Tim Thomas contract is not nearly as Bruins-friendly as it originally seemed.

As mentioned at Stanley Cup of Chowder, the elder Swede’s dude from Michigan’s (thanks: SCoC) deal is considered a 35+ contract so if he gets injured, retires or turns into the second coming of Roman Cechmanek then too bad so sad for Boston. Thomas has been great this season – without getting deep into research, he might be our gut reaction Vezina winner – but Mirtle astutely points out that the NHL isn’t exactly heavily populated by older goalies these days.

Ultimately, the contract should be judged by how it affects the future of the B’s. Will they have the cap space to retain Phil Kessel, David Krejci and – eventually – guys like Milan Lucic and Marc Savard? Time will tell, but Krejci/Kessel might be sacrificed to the offer sheet gods before this is all over.

  • Our other concession: Alex Ovechkin probably deserves the MVP. For quite some time, we’ve been promoting Evgeni Malkin as the Hart winner but Ovechkin’s goal scoring ability is more of a “game breaker” than Geno’s all-world passing. Not to say it isn’t a very close match and we could always pull a 360 if Malkin scores 8 points this week.

But, really, the question is: will either be worthy of the “Staal” trophy?

  • One thing we have a hard time imagining: CLS ever pumping up NBC when it comes to NHL coverage.

It’s bad enough that NBC decided to show Minnesota vs. Detroit, a game that managed to be bland on two levels: the “familiarity” of seeing the Red Wings again combined with the tedium of watching the Wild. Could we call NBC “talented” at sucking? At least Bettman and NBC had to eat some crow, though, because Puck the Media reports that the game was NBC’s lowest rated match of the season. Shocking, we know.

  • Oh, but it gets MUCH worse.

You may or may not have heard that, in a move that’s just another slap in the face in a series of injustices, the peacock will be televising Games 1, 2 (good) and then 5, 6 and 7 if necessary of the Stanley Cup Finals. That’s right, the NHL might not even have the raising of the chalice on an American national network. Unbelievable.

After NBC’s stunning decision to move a heated Eastern Conference Finals overtime game to Versus for a horse racing preview show, they pretty much were dead to us. But give NBC credit for finding new and exciting ways to pour salt in the wounds of hockey fans.

Illegal Curve makes a good point about another flaw in NBC’s programming decisions: the lack of anything resembling consistency. A casual hockey fan truly can never know if they’re going to get to watch a game each Sunday as there is no clear reasoning to indicate when the NHL will be on NBC and when it will “take the week off.”

With the continued struggles of Versus to find a uniform home on basic cable, finding the NHL is starting to become like a sad sports version of Where’s Waldo. Despite what crazy Boston announcers tell you, the NHL needs one nightly ESPN game so people can at least find one game per week.

Ugh.

Interesting to see that Don was once considered “Dick’s brother” in their home town. You have to wonder if Don Cherry never reacts to being called a dick simply because he assumes the person’s trying to scream at his bro instead.

GHL has some other great posts too, with a look at the evolution of the Cup and also a discussion regarding a female hockey player who looks A LOT like Owen Hart.


6. Columbus
7. Anaheim
8. St. Louis

In case you’re wondering what my voice sounds like (most common response: “Do you have a cold?”) you might get the chance.

Look for a link, unless it ends up being a disaster. If that happens I’ll claim it was a different James O’Brien with the same lust for puns and disregard for personal hygiene and tact. Seriously, there’s about a million James O’Briens/Bryans/Brians out there.

What now, Crosby haters? Does success count if you can’t see it? (Morning Cycle)

March 9, 2009
This was just too weird not to post (from a blog called On Deadline)
  • After reading that Sidney Crosby helped the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals yesterday and checking the Penguins’ status in the Eastern Conference bubble, the next thought that came into my head was:

Well, how is the “Crosby is the Anti-Christ” movement going to spin this one?

Sure, it wasn’t all Crosby. Both Crosby and ohmygawdtotallyammmmilliontimesbetter Alex Ovechkin scored goals for their teams. From what I saw on NHL on the Fly, the Capitals had more sustained pressure and may have been the more deserving team.

But right after Ovechkin failed to score on the gimmick fest, Crosby had the shootout game winner. It would be pretty difficult to argue that Ovechkin grossly out-played Crosby, something that a lot of pathetic people are clamoring to do.

So here’s some advice: calm the hell down about this Crosby stuff. Maybe get some sunlight. Eat a delicious pretzel. Stop being a dick.

  • And here’s some advice to NBC: just stop covering the NHL.

Seriously.

Can’t help but picture Jack Donaghy picking the NHL games for NBC

How many times can the network make the wrong programming choices? Guess what hockey moment was given the ESPN Sportscenter treatment? Let me tell you: it wasn’t a game where Manny Fernandez crapped himself three times.

No, it was actually the first game between the Caps and Pens after the Ovechkin-Crosby rivalry had the hockey world buzzing.

But, hey, let’s be fair: Boston vs. New York featured bigger markets. It must be that NBC assumes the only people who would watch hockey on a Sunday afternoon are people who are just hungover and don’t even know their TV set is even on. Let’s face it, there are probably more people with hangovers in Boston and New York. So maybe we are the blind ones.

My guess at NBC’s target demographic: blackout drunks

Illegal Curve had a great take on the blunder:

The NBA markets its stars perfectly. They put them on the national platform; and in the process they market the game itself. It is time the NHL took these steps. They need to broadcast good exciting hockey, regardless of where that team is based. That is how your market the game. We know the Rangers and Bruins will always have their hardcore fans, but a novice turning on hockey for the first time, won’t exactly take to the game if it is slow and without much action.

On the other hand, if a novice turns on a Penguins/Capitals game or Sharks/Blackhawks game then they are probably more likely to comeback and take to the game.

He’s not a HoF player, unless you mean the Manly Hall of Fame (for which he would probably have the mandatory 20-year waiting period waived).

  • More and more, there are those “The NHL is BACK!” articles streaming from the MSM idiot tanks. It is something that regularly generates an eye-roll.

But it’s impossible to deny that this is the highest point the sport has seen since the lockout.

My hockey newbie pal Abel discussed some of the things that helped turn him on to the sport: the influx of young stars like Malkin-Crosby-Ovechkin, the nice mix of arcadey action and realism provided by EA’s NHL games and a general breakthrough feeling for the league. (Surely the Winter Classic tradition made some waves, too.)

Still, the recent successes are exactly why we need to remain critical of those NBC-type blunders.

When you have all those marketing dollars going into two players, then you choose that game. It’s really pretty f’in simple.

  • Finally, Wendi Nix is very attractive.

That doesn’t have anything to do with hockey, really, but it needs to be said. Someday I hope to buy her a beer so that she looks around, sees me and then has that “Oh …” look of disappointment on her face. Life is good.

Morning cycle: NBC drops the ball again

February 16, 2009

  • To the surprise of few, NBC indeed picked the wrong game on Sunday.
The peacock decided to go for a yawn-inducing big market game we’ve seen five million times (New York Rangers vs. Philly Flyers) instead of a game featuring two of the five best teams in the league. What did they get? Henrik Lundqvist getting pulled in the second period of a matchup that probably was decided well before that.

San Jose Sharks at New Jersey Devils, aka the game that NBC should have chosen, ended up being a wild 6-5 game. (At least, that’s what highlights and recaps indicate) Judging from the great audience attracted by the big Boston Bruins – San Jose Sharks last Tuesday, it seems that NBC misjudged demand.
It goes further than that. This is the another reason that the NHL needs to think seriously about the quality of its coverage beyond dollars and cents, even if Versus provides bush league coverage at times. How many times can the league tolerate NBC’s “whatevah, hockey” approach? Shouldn’t the NHL do everything it can to introduce the San Jose Sharks (easily one of the three favorites for the Cup) to casual viewing hockey audiences? Is the league really going to stick with a network that relocated an intense overtime playoff hockey game for the PRESHOW of a horse race?

(Let that last sentence marinate in your soul.)

As usual, Puck the Media features great coverage of NBC’s short-sighted decision.

We know, we know, it’s a small-market game, and Sharks fans would be forced to awaken at the ungodly hour of 9:30 AM on a Sunday morning for a hockey gam(Something we, mind you, have always dreamed of). But this is the PERFECT weekend to try it out. Competition for the audience that’d be watching a hockey game is pretty slim. The NBA All-Star Game isn’t till primetime, and the Daytona 500 doesn’t feature much of a hockey-friendly audience (Prove me wrong, Raleigh). This is the one chance the NHL has to experiment with a game that might just draw the passing fancy of some channel-flipper and they missed.

  • Moving on to happier news, Mike Green managed to break the record for consecutive goals scored by a defenseman.
Could it be safe to say already, even counting their Cinderella run to the Cup Finals in the Bondra era, this might be the best season for the Capitals? Beyond that, the Capitals remind me of a revamp of the ’90s Detroit Red Wings teams.

Look at all the Russians in high-ranking spots. Obviously, it all starts with Alex Ovechkin, but there are a lot of big responsibility guys on that roster who are Russian. Whenever he’s healthy, Alex Semin is blossoming into an elite forward. Viktor Kozlov might seem like an underachiever but he’s a nice addition (or as Japer’s Rink called him, “a Lebowski rug”) to the Capitals. Hell, they even employ former Red Wing Sergei Fedorov.
  • Which team is third best in the Western Conference? Because of divisional playoff seeding, the Calgary Flames should slip into the third spot. That being said, the best team after juggernauts in Detroit and San Jose might just be the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago destroyed the Dallas Stars 6-2 after putting together a nice 5-3 record during an eight-game road trip. After facing three more road games in a row, the Blackhawks won’t face more than two back-to-back road games.

It probably won’t allow Chicago to put any pressure on division-leading Detroit. However, the easy road ahead might allow the Blackhawks to go into the playoffs with some momentum and relative good health.
  • The Penguins fired Michel Therrien this weekend.
Normally, it’s ridiculously unfair to fire a coach who managed to lead a team to the Cup finals the year before but context is important. My guess is a highly trained dolphin could coach last year’s Penguins team to at least the Conference finals.

At the same time, Therrien deserves credit for shepherding the young Penguins from cellar dweller to contender. Who knows how much of it was Therrien, but at times the Pens looked to have “good defensive team” potential, a rare sentence even for Pittsburgh’s golden era.

One thing that bothers me (and usually, only NBC guys say these kind of things) is how much certain pundit-idiots weigh Marian Hossa‘s absence for being a big reason for the Penguins missing the playoffs.

Hossa played 12 regular season games for Pittsburgh, so ease off the accelerator on that one. He gave the Penguins an extra gear, but that mattered in the post-season, not in making the playoffs. Just a pet peeve.

Therrien’s firing is justified but seemed like it could have waited until the summer. It’s not the fault of HCMT (credit Pensblog) that the Penguins are having a miserable season. That falls on the players shoulders first, Ray Shero’s next and then HCMT. But HCMT is the easiest guy to fire and that’s that.

It’s looking more and more improbable for the Penguins to make the playoffs. The question is: does it even matter if they make it? It seems hard to imagine this team making a Cinderella run right now.