FanDuel - WFBC

April 19, 2011

NBC, Versus win NHL TV rights in bidding war vs. ESPN: A source with knowledge of the NBC/NHL relationship told us this morning that it's a 10-year deal.

posted by NoMich to hockey at 10:08 AM - 14 comments

Versus still exists?

posted by graymatters at 10:38 AM on April 19

No. And they most certainly do not dedicate hours and hours of coverage to the NHL playoffs. Go about your business, citizen!

posted by NoMich at 11:06 AM on April 19

NBC's "re-branding" of Versus as an NBC Sports network is what CBS has done in a limited way with their cable/satellite CBS College Sports (CBSC Network). CBSC did a very good job with college football this season past, broadcasting several good games featuring teams that "didn't quite make the cut" with the major networks and were not in the local New England market. Among these were lower division (FBS, D2, and D3) games that featured players that might be considered NFL caliber. Their performance in the basketball season was similar, but without the D2 and D3 coverage. They also had some good NCAA ice hockey coverage. Their big problem comes right now, when there's not much going on in college sports. They have been reduced to rebroadcasts of college lacrosse and the like. OK if you're a fan of the sport or a particular college, but not much to attract the casual sports fan.

If NBC can do something similar with Versus, replacing some of the outdoor stuff with the more popular sports that are not usually featured on the major networks, they might have something. They will have to avoid the boredom of an off season in the sports that are not tied up with exclusive agreements on other networks.

It is becoming very difficult to fill programming time on a sports network. If ESPN/ABC, CBS, Fox, or NBC haven't tied up a particular sport, then the pet outlets of the various leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB) have the rights. Add to this the local cable and satellite outlets such as NESN, YES, MSG, and the several Fox Sports channels, and sports broadcasting is quite well saturated. It is at once a sports fan's dream and nightmare.

posted by Howard_T at 12:27 PM on April 19

O boy. 10 more years of ESPN barely showing a hockey highlight. This sucks.

posted by Debo270 at 06:52 PM on April 19

I'm with Debo on that one. ESPN has acted like a petulant child since the NHL went to Versus, burying coverage in between exhaustive dissections of every basketball highlight from both college and professional games, as well as anything else they can cover ad nauseum. When they do get to showing NHL scores and highlights, often you only see the former, with maybe one goal highlight.

I understand that the response is that ESPN is only showing what the market wants, and that if there was more interest, they would show more. However, I wonder why they would enter a "bidding war" with NBC if they didn't feel there was some value to hockey programming. I think the sparse coverage is more punitive than anything.

And it makes me sad to see Buccigross feigning interest in Shaq et. al's latest off-court antics

posted by tahoemoj at 07:26 PM on April 19

Great, wonderful ... so with Notre Dame football on Saturdays and the NFL on Sundays, we'll get no NBC coverage until New Year's Day ... then we'll get Sissy Crosby and Ovechbitch ad nauseum.

BTW, that KA-CHING! you just heard was your cable bill increasing to pay for this ... and Comcast will laugh all the way to the bank!

posted by jjzucal at 12:48 AM on April 20

then we'll get Sissy Crosby and Ovechbitch ad nauseum

Bitter much ?

It's Sidney, and Ovechkin.

I don't see my cable bill going up over this issue.

posted by tommytrump at 02:30 AM on April 20

If more games like Kings-Sharks tonight happen, ESPN will be kicking themselves for the next decade.

posted by boredom_08 at 02:39 AM on April 20

I don't see my cable bill going up over this issue.

Besides, did ABC show any regular season games when ESPN had the NHL contract?

posted by NoMich at 08:19 AM on April 20

If more games like Kings-Sharks tonight happen, ESPN will be kicking themselves for the next decade.

I say the NHL may be kicking themselves as well. Maybe you go with the lower bidder to get the coverage ESPN offers and maybe gain some new fans. I would bet that is what ESPN was thinking.

I know some people who have recently told me how much they are not interested in hockey. I say "Watch some playoff hockey" Last nights game was a perfect example why.

posted by Debo270 at 08:50 AM on April 20

All we ask is that they continue to listen to us, adapt and, occasionally, turn off Pierre's mic during game play.

That would be a bonus. I pray for him to catch a puck to the dome everytime he is "Between the boards"

I HATE THAT GUY!!!!

posted by Debo270 at 08:56 AM on April 20

ESPN has acted like a petulant child since the NHL went to Versus, burying coverage in between exhaustive dissections of every basketball highlight from both college and professional games,

They did that when they had broadcasting rights. Screw 'em. They only wanted the NHL back because the NBA will miss a half-season, as soon as they get the hot-dog no-team-game league back the NHL would have been fourth fiddle to them again.

If you're still watching ESPN for anything at this point...stop. NHL/NFL/MLB networks do a much better job of highlight coverage, and are not any less independent than ESPN has become, only with fewer segments brought to you by watery "beer."

posted by stevis at 10:36 AM on April 20

then we'll get Sissy Crosby and Ovechbitch ad nauseum

Yeah, I'm kind of sick of having the "rivalry" between these two shoved down my throat, but they are both tremendous players. Watching them play, the last thing I'd call Crosby is a sissy, and Ovie, while annoying to some old schoolers, plays the game with as hard an edge as anyone in the game. I don't blame the players themselves for the fact that the "Game of the Week" involves the Caps, Pens, Wings, or Rangers every week; it's the powers that be that have decided to market this way. Hell, I don't even fully blame NBC. If you look at the NHL's website often, you'll see that they have decided to hitch their wagon to those two.

Well, it's not the NBA and it's not 1984, so I don't think the strategy is working. Maybe try showcasing some of the other things that make the NHL great.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:25 AM on April 20

The only reason I don't like this is because my cable company doesn't carry VS or any Center Ice channels in HD. I do however get two ESPN's and NBC in HD. It didn't affect me much during the regular season because I've been getting NHL Gamecenter on my PS3 for over four months now. Almost every game in HD and my choice of home or away feed. So as long as the Devils and Predators aren't the big markets or have the Crosbys/Ovechkins I rarely have to care. But yes, this sucks come conference finals time.

And yeah screw ESPN. I have a long commute and I can't remember what exactly it was they were talking about on ESPN radio but it was two different stories and when it was over SVP said, "I'm sorry, I just realized that we did two hockey segments in a row, I promise it will never happen again." That was back in November, I've been listening to PBR ever since.

posted by MrFrisby at 12:41 PM on April 20

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