Sunday, May 20, 2007

An Epic Embarrassment

Hockey now has its own Heidi game. NBC, ironically the same network that brought us the original Heidi game did it again Saturday when they cut off OT coverage of the Buffalo - Ottawa semifinal game for a horse race. THAT'S how insignificant hockey has become to the sports viewing public here in the states.
Saturday afternoon's channel-hopping debacle caused by NBC choosing the Preakness pre-race show over playoff OT wasn't easy for the league or its fans to stomach. And it's not just that NBC made the decision to cut away at the end of regulation. If the race was coming up, you'd have to begrudgingly understand the move. But there were 20 minutes left in the broadcast window when they made the call. So while Buffalo's season was coming to a jarring end over on Versus, NBC was in the midst of more than an hour's worth of pre-race blather. [...]

Just don't make out NBC as the villain here. While they could have held out for the extra 20 minutes, their position is defensible. After all, the Peacock Network pays a hefty sum for the rights to the highly rated Preakness. They simply share ad revenue for the rights to NHL games, and since there are no TV timeouts in OT, that's not a tough decision to make.

No, this one falls squarely on the sagging shoulders of the NHL. Instead of saving Saturday nights for Hockey Night In Canada, they've bent over backwards to provide NBC with the games it wants at the times it wants. And in giving NBC this game at this time with the hard deadline of the Preakness staring them in the face, they made the wrong decision.

Of course, this whole thing reminds me of something the commissioner told me just a couple weeks ago. I asked Gary Bettman about overtime games on NBC, and if there was any concern voiced by the network about the potential length of games.

"That's a discussion I've had with them," Bettman said, "so that's not an issue for the Finals."

Well, Gary, safe to say it's an issue now.
Needless to say, this insulting debacle, which was brought to you by those who continue to do an excellent job mismanaging this sport into oblivion, represents a sad, sad day for hockey.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe it!!!

Bettman has killed the NHL...

br. t. said...

Indeed, Gary must go.