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OT: Battle for TV Hockey in 2011

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04-26-2010, 04:49 PM
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OT: Battle for TV Hockey in 2011

Kind of saw this coming. Hockey is growing as almost a counter-culture to mainstream professional sports. You only need to look around to see hockey is growing. When living in DC, I went from one of a few fans I knew from big markets to seeing those ugly Phoenix jerseys, and Vancouver jerseys, and Kings jerseys, and Carolina jerseys floating around by 2009. Of course while I was there, the Capitals, Penguins, and Blackhawks grew exponentially, but that all just shows how big hockey is getting once again.

http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/content_...1bab73b7c?pn=1

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The uptick in hockey comes at a crucial time for the current rights holders. With Versus and NBC contracts set to expire in 2011, John Skipper, evp of content at ESPN, has indicated he’d like hockey to return to ESPN and ABC.

Jamie Davis, president of Versus, aims to hold on to the asset. “We took over the telecasts in 2005, the year after the lockout, and together with the NHL, as true partners, we have worked to bring the viewers back,” Davis said.

At least one media buyer is rooting for Versus. “If the NHL goes back to ESPN, it is going to get lost on a network that shows so many different sports,” said one national TV buyer. “On Versus, it stands out.”

The buyer added that the completion of the proposed Comcast-NBC deal would make a joint NBC/Versus hockey buy just as potent as an ABC/ESPN buy.
EDIT:

I'm not sure how I feel about a Comcast/NBC/Versus deal. ABC/ESPN would be an interesting change of pace.

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04-26-2010, 05:02 PM
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I'm ambivalent, and it won't make a difference to me unless I am somewhere that Versus is difficult to get.

When the NHL was with ESPN before, they didn't have the NBA to compete with for telecast time. That's important, because the best thing about ESPN and the NHL was getting playoff games on ESPN and ESPN2 (in college I could follow 4 games a night if they weren't showing the Flyers on one of the games with the two early games and one late game).

Doubt we'll get that from them again...so Versus doesn't really lose anything there. As far as exposure, it's probably better to get tied to ESPN due to their spread, website, etc.

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04-26-2010, 05:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jester View Post
I'm ambivalent, and it won't make a difference to me unless I am somewhere that Versus is difficult to get.

When the NHL was with ESPN before, they didn't have the NBA to compete with for telecast time. That's important, because the best thing about ESPN and the NHL was getting playoff games on ESPN and ESPN2 (in college I could follow 4 games a night if they weren't showing the Flyers on one of the games with the two early games and one late game).

Doubt we'll get that from them again...so Versus doesn't really lose anything there. As far as exposure, it's probably better to get tied to ESPN due to their spread, website, etc.
You're far better at these TV deals than I am. Do you have any idea how this would effect local markets, particularly our work with CSN?

I think we're in a unique position being tied directly to Comcast.

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04-26-2010, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris Shafer View Post
You're far better at these TV deals than I am. Do you have any idea how this would effect local markets, particularly our work with CSN?

I think we're in a unique position being tied directly to Comcast.
National telecast shouldn't affect local markets at all. Local markets have their own rights and deals. NHL can negotiate deals that grant a national telecast (the Monday night game) that they take away from local markets.

Flyers aren't really unique in the sense that more than a few sports teams are directly tied to cable networks at this point, it does mean that the Flyers corporate parent is directly interested in this since they get the money from Versus and NBC if they sign the deal.

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04-26-2010, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jester View Post
I'm ambivalent, and it won't make a difference to me unless I am somewhere that Versus is difficult to get.

When the NHL was with ESPN before, they didn't have the NBA to compete with for telecast time. That's important, because the best thing about ESPN and the NHL was getting playoff games on ESPN and ESPN2 (in college I could follow 4 games a night if they weren't showing the Flyers on one of the games with the two early games and one late game).

Doubt we'll get that from them again...so Versus doesn't really lose anything there. As far as exposure, it's probably better to get tied to ESPN due to their spread, website, etc.
SportsCenter, in particular. The NHL could certainly benefit from actual analysis and more than ten seconds per game on the show, but they need to give ESPN an incentive to do it (as I'm pretty sure you said in another thread). It's probably a pretty tricky proposition to do that without pissing Versus/NBC off though.

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04-26-2010, 05:29 PM
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Aren't the NFL and possibly NBA both looking looking at a lockout in 2011?

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04-26-2010, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by CantSeeColors View Post
SportsCenter, in particular. The NHL could certainly benefit from actual analysis and more than ten seconds per game on the show, but they need to give ESPN an incentive to do it (as I'm pretty sure you said in another thread). It's probably a pretty tricky proposition to do that without pissing Versus/NBC off though.
Well, what they should do is have a split national telecast, like we have with the NBA (TNT and ESPN/ABC). Not sure if they could get Versus/NBC on board with that (given that Comcast is in a blood feud with ESPN, it seems unlikely), but that would clearly be the best option for the NHL and NHL fans.

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04-26-2010, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollywood Cannon View Post
Aren't the NFL and possibly NBA both looking looking at a lockout in 2011?
Yes... sounds like the NBA one is very likely. NFL, I'd be shocked if the parties involved were dumb enough to skip a season (just way too much money for the owners, and players careers are way too short).

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04-26-2010, 05:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jester View Post
Yes... sounds like the NBA one is very likely. NFL, I'd be shocked if the parties involved were dumb enough to skip a season (just way too much money for the owners, and players careers are way too short).
The NBA lockout leaves an open window for the NHL to work with ESPN and be focused on which could be great for the league. It could set up to be perfect timing.

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04-26-2010, 05:38 PM
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Hockey fans have been a better educated/higher income demographic than the other sports for years. The internet and narrowcasting have been perfect for the game. To hell with the mainstream media and to hell with the idea of changing the game to appeal to the masses.

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04-26-2010, 05:44 PM
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but are these the basic pros and cons for this?

ABC/ESPN
Pros: larger audience, more coverage, more exposure, MAYBE better game broadcasts, money
Cons: playing second fiddle to NFL/MLB, turn hockey into tabloid news crap

CMCST/VS/NBC
Pros: more intimate audience, flagship program, unchanged regional broadcast system
Cons: hockey may not continue to grow significantly, audience won't get large "casual" fanbase

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04-26-2010, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollywood Cannon View Post
Aren't the NFL and possibly NBA both looking looking at a lockout in 2011?
yea, hard to imagine the NFL locking out, the amount of money just about everyone would lose makes it seem impossible.

NBA has a chance to lockout considering how much money they lost this season (I wanna say Stern projected around 300-400 million)

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04-26-2010, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Shafer View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but are these the basic pros and cons for this?

ABC/ESPN
Pros: larger audience, more coverage, more exposure, MAYBE better game broadcasts, money
Cons: playing second fiddle to NFL/MLB, turn hockey into tabloid news crap

CMCST/VS/NBC
Pros: more intimate audience, flagship program, unchanged regional broadcast system
Cons: hockey may not continue to grow significantly, audience won't get large "casual" fanbase
NBA is the significant issue with ESPN/ABC. The NFL is only around in the fall and on Monday nights. NBA would conflict with the playoff schedule.

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04-26-2010, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by DrHamburg View Post
yea, hard to imagine the NFL locking out, the amount of money just about everyone would lose makes it seem impossible.

NBA has a chance to lockout considering how much money they lost this season (I wanna say Stern projected around 300-400 million)
Yeah, the hard cap is coming...but NBA owners/GMs are among the dumbest mangers of anything in the world with some of those contracts.

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04-26-2010, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Jester View Post
NBA is the significant issue with ESPN/ABC. The NFL is only around in the fall and on Monday nights. NBA would conflict with the playoff schedule.
Do you know when the NBA's contract is up?

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04-26-2010, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Shafer View Post
Do you know when the NBA's contract is up?
Through 2015-16

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04-26-2010, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Hollywood Cannon View Post
Through 2015-16
And there's no way they have any interest in giving that up. ESPN may be interested in the NHL again, and the NHL can deliver some fans...but the NHL lacks the cultural relevance that the NBA has, and that's an area ESPN has pushed themselves in the last decade.

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04-26-2010, 06:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollywood Cannon View Post
Through 2015-16
Any idea if ESPN can cancel the contract if the NBA does lockout?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jester View Post
And there's no way they have any interest in giving that up. ESPN may be interested in the NHL again, and the NHL can deliver some fans...but the NHL lacks the cultural relevance that the NBA has, and that's an area ESPN has pushed themselves in the last decade.
Good point. And on that note, I think it might be better for us to continue playing the "underground" card as the flagship sport of a different network. Possibly up NBC coverage and Versus coverage at the most, but keep things generally local.

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04-26-2010, 06:16 PM
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[QUOTE=Chris Shafer;25467620 I'm not sure how I feel about a Comcast/NBC/Versus deal. ABC/ESPN would be an interesting change of pace.[/QUOTE]

SCREW ABC / ESPN. I never want to here Jon Butch-wash-his-ass do another hockey game in my life. He was brutal during the frozen four.

Barry Melrose deserves the Hockey neverland know to many as the KHL.

Gary Thorn could have become a broadcasting legend if he would have just grown a pair and walked from ESPN. What does he get now? The little league world series, The Frozen Final + Orioles baseball (not sure if he still has this gig)

I VOTE NO for ESPN EVER doing the NHL again.

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04-26-2010, 06:20 PM
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No reason they can't both be on VS and ESPN. Only the NHL would bite the hand that feeds

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04-26-2010, 06:20 PM
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ESPN and the NHL both have an open slots on Thursday night, Versus only does Monday-Wednesday during the regular season, ESPN does basketball on Friday, basketball is on TNT in Thursday.

If I'm the NHL, I dip my feet in Thursday night hockey on ESPN and see how it goes.

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04-26-2010, 06:21 PM
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Has anybody chimed in as to whether a Vs. deal or an ESPN deal has to be mutually exclusive? In other words, even though it's highly unlikely, can the NHL conceivably broker a deal with both networks?

Also, losing the NCAA Tournament was a huge blow to ESPN. They may make a stronger push than we expect. I just want them to treat the game seriously, and not as a rented mule.

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04-26-2010, 06:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by i am dave View Post
Has anybody chimed in as to whether a Vs. deal or an ESPN deal has to be mutually exclusive? In other words, even though it's highly unlikely, can the NHL conceivably broker a deal with both networks?

Also, losing the NCAA Tournament was a huge blow to ESPN. They may make a stronger push than we expect. I just want them to treat the game seriously, and not as a rented mule.
Yep, NBA has deals with TNT and ABC/ESPN, MLB has deals with ESPN, Fox, and TBS, NFL has deals with Fox, CBS, and ESPN.

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04-26-2010, 06:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by i am dave View Post
Has anybody chimed in as to whether a Vs. deal or an ESPN deal has to be mutually exclusive? In other words, even though it's highly unlikely, can the NHL conceivably broker a deal with both networks?

Also, losing the NCAA Tournament was a huge blow to ESPN. They may make a stronger push than we expect. I just want them to treat the game seriously, and not as a rented mule.
Considering a bloodwar between ESPN and Comcast apparently exists, I don't know how they could get along. However, I like the idea of sharing, especially on Thursday's as FlyHigh suggested.

All we need to know we learned in kindergarten right?

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04-26-2010, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Shafer View Post
Considering a bloodwar between ESPN and Comcast apparently exists, I don't know how they could get along. However, I like the idea of sharing, especially on Thursday's as FlyHigh suggested.

All we need to know we learned in kindergarten right?
All I know is the "lefties" in kindergarten got the really cool looking blue scissors while us "righties" got the lame yellow-and-white safety scissors.

But I digress... Obviously it would be a huge boost to revenues if the NHL can broker a multi-network deal, and I still remain optimistic that the Comcast-NBC merger can only be a good thing for the NHL considering Comcast's ties with the League.

So in closing, I'll say this:

Dear NHL,

Don't screw this up.

Love,
Everybody.

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