Friday, January 13, 2006


Tomorrow (Saturday the 14th of January) will be the first NHL game broadcast on network television this year. The NHL will be on NBC. They will show one game per week for four Saturdays during the season (and 2 more Saturday games in April plus a few more during the playoffs). They have a cast of familiar names to lead the broadcast including Mike Emrick, John Davidson, Pierre Maguire, Bill Clement and Ray Ferraro. Its always good to have more NHL games on TV and hopefully these games wont have the problems of OLN, but the way they are handled highlights the problems the NHL has trying to get into the mainstream US market. No games whatsoever are broadcast until the halfway point in the NHL season (because of conflicts with the NFL). They will only broadcast one game per week, which isn't enough considering the number of quality games we see each night in the NHL. Even in the playoffs, many games won't be broadcast at all because they are not on weekends, which prevents fans from watching an entire playoff series. NHL on NBC is a bare minimum commitment from network television to show NHL hockey - and to the NHL this is a wonderful thing.

The NHL is probably better off recognizing they are very strong in several niche markets in the US (Michigan, Minnesota, New England) and have negligible interest in others (Alabama, Mississippi, New Mexico) and have the strong markets broadcast games almost every night on local cable channels (such as Fox SportsNet) and leave the lesser markets with less coverage. There is no need for the NHL to be a national presence in the United States. It has never been a national presence in the United States and it has made large amounts of money for lots of people. In fact, the lockout occurred in part because of the NHL's failed attempts to be a national US presence.

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