May 21st, 2007

NBC Dumps Out Of Hockey For The Preakness

Like a lot of American hockey fans, I was watching Saturday’s deciding Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final between the Sabres and Senators when NBC dropped their coverage of the game after it went into OT and kicked it over to Versus in favor of their scheduled coverage of the Preakness Stakes.

As it would turn out, I was away from the television when the network announced the shift when the game went to OT, so I spent a minute or two watching the coverage from Pimlico before guessing that the hockey had been dumped to Versus. It wasn’t much of a problem for me, but plenty of other folks are very angry.

James Mirtle:

An utter embarrassment, more so for NBC than the league. The only reason yesterday’s game was broadcast in the afternoon was for American television interests, and when those interests are as obviously subsidiary to all others on the network, it really makes you question just why the game had been pushed into the afternoon (or morning, for those in the Pacific time zone) at all.

The good thing is that high-profile viewers like Daryl Reaugh were among those shafted by the move, and here’s hoping NBC decides to drop its playoff coverage next season due to the resultant bad press.

One problem, as stated earlier on Saturday by Tom Benjamin, was that plenty of fans in Canada — especially Western Canada — weren’t happy with seeing Hockey Night In Canada transformed into Hockey Afternoon In Canada. And lest you think the outrage was limited to fans in Canada like Neate Seager — a man who is sniffing a whif of conspiracy — check out some of the comments over at Inside The Panthers at the Palm Beach Post.

Just another reminder that hockey, even playoff hockey, just doesn’t move the meter much South of the border. Something tells me this isn’t the last indignity the league will be suffering over the next few years.

UPDATE: More bewilderment and anger, here, here and here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More righteous indignation from Keith Russell.

And yet more anger at Hockey Nation and Gorilla Crouch.

Here’s one that’s going to be ringing in our ears for a while from The Everyday Economist:

The economist in me realizes that the glory days of hockey ratings in the United States appear to be gone, but the fan in me says that if you are going to commit to a game, commit to a game. The playoffs are when casual fans such as myself watch the games. If NBC isn

4 Responses to “NBC Dumps Out Of Hockey For The Preakness”

  1. Bettman will fold on this and not make a peep, because he thinks he’s lucky just to be on broadcast. If this is actually cited as an excuse for shootouts in the playoffs and those come to pass, I will stop watching. I state this unequivocally, because one of the things that keeps me watching playoff hockey is the fact that it is sudden death overtime.

  2. Peter Puck says:

    I, for one, did not hear Bill Clement tell people they were moving the game to Versus and there was no “bug” on the screen telling viewers to flip over. (My bad for flipping back and forth with the Sox-Cub game on Fox.) I was really miffed as I kept switching back and forth as I did hear Bill Clement tell us that they would let us know when there was a score (and because the Sox were in the procees of screwing up another game to the Cub).

    Nonetheless, at the end of regulation on Sunday, I called NBC5 in Chicago to make sure it was going to show the whole game instead of people talking about weather at a horserace. As the “audience comment” mailbox was full (which I found out why later on), I just held on and was defaulted to a female security guard who answered the phone. I asked whether it was going to be worth my time to keep watching so I coud see overtime or were they going to dump out to talk about horseracing? I told her I could understand it if they were actually showing a “horserace” but all they did was “talk about racing.” The security guard responded, “You do not know how many calls I got about that yesterday!” (Thus, the full mailbox.) My retort was “Hmmm, I read in the papers that no one watches hockey! How can that be?” I then asked who I needed to leave a voicemail message for about “this crap” and she asked me to hold. She then came back and said that she talked to the people in “Transmission” and they guaranteed that the hockey game would be shown in full. I thanked her for the information and said that I thought she was going “above and beyond the call of duty” here.

    My next call, to the idiots in NY at the NHL offices. I suggest you post the phone numbers.

  3. structuralpoke says:

    The biggest problem isn’t that they switched. It is (grudgingly) understandable. What about those of us that set their DVR to get the game? I set the damn thing to record an extra hour like I always do and, later that night, as I’m fast-forwarding through what I thought was an intermission I see Ottawa celebrating.

    If I’d have known that switching to VS would have been an option, I would have changed my recording appropriately, but nobody that I knew of knew about anything like this before hand.

  4. Leper Messiah says:

    What bothers me the most isn’t that they cut away from the game to show horse racing, it’s that they cut away from the game to show pre-race crap about horse racing, not the race itself! The intrinsic contempt that shows for the sport and it’s fans is amazing.

    Being one of the few out there without cable or satellite tv, I was especially furious. Now, I can understand if they had cut away for the actual race itself and then back to the game after the race was won, but they didn’t. They just shrugged, said, oh, well, no one cares and switched coverage. Had this happened to a playoff elimination basketball, baseball, or football game (perhaps to show the movie “Heidi”?), the NBC corporate office would have been burned to the ground & the earth sown with salt.

    Someone at the league office needs to grow a pair & sue the hell out of NBC. If this is how NBC is going to treat the fans, we don’t need NBC.

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