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How To Improve The NHL On TV

June 2, 2008

Over at IPB today, there was a discussion about what could be done to improve the NHL broadcasts on Versus and/or NBC. Some of the ideas mentioned are common sense: showing replays of pertinent moments, allowing broadcasters to let their hockey knowledge shine through (the lowest common denominator fan will not be offended by Doc Emerick calling Crosby a knucklehead for going offside during a critical five-on-three), or even adjusting camera angles.

However, there’s a couple of other things that the league could do to strengthen its TV positioning.

– Increasing the amount of games on the tube per week. Versus only shows two NHL games per week, and they’re usually some combination of a Pittsburgh / Philly / Rangers game. Most of the East Coast never gets to see the Western Conference games unless they’re lucky enough to have Center Ice or catch a late game on HNiC. Baseball and basketball are on national tv at least four nights per week. With the amount of games the NHL has on the docket on any one night, there’s no reason for the league to only be on television for two nights per week.

Does ultimate fighting really have the support and ratings to be shown so often on Versus?

– This is linked to the previous idea, but there are other teams out there besides the Pens, Flyers and Rangers. Show them every now and then! How many times were the Wild shown? The Preds? I realize that these teams have neither the flashy superstars nor the media market size that the previously mentioned teams do, but they still exist in the NHL.

– Set up a “Hockey Night in America.” Have one night per week dedicated to showing one Eastern Conference (early) game and one Western Conference (late) game. Pick a night (not Thursday, that’s a busy TV night for the broadcast networks) and make it work. Just don’t pick Saturday. Let that still be the sacred HNiC cow.

– Don’t do puck tracks or glow pucks. They make the game more difficult to watch. If our parents could grow up watching hockey on a 13-inch black-and-white TV, there’s no reason that we can’t follow a puck on a 42-inch HD TV.

– Every fanbase claims that they have the best announcers in the league. While its an argument that no one will ever win, why not expose the entire nation to the joys of each teams’ announcing crew? Take one game that each team would have on Versus, and allow the home team’s announcers to broadcast. The nation would then hear Rick and Harry, Doc and Chico (NJ) or even Mike Lange (Pittsburgh – yes, I know he’s radio only, but it would still work). Of course, that would require a departure from the All-Sid, All-Drury all the time broadcasting schedule of Versus.

These are just a few things to consider as we head into the offseason.

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