So, we get disconcerting news last week when the NHL All-Star game drew less than 500,000 viewers on versus. That the game that is to be the showplace of the sport, where Rick Nash and Brian Rolston, American, have monster games, but not monster enough to knock Daniel Briere's 5 points from the MVP status isn't even able to draw more than a .7 share. That viewership is down on both sides of the border. All this is such solid news that the NHL renews their contract with Versus through 2011.
2011!?! Hockey is stuck promoting itself on channel 185 of most cable systems until a year AFTER Sid, Alex, and the other big guns play in the Olympics in Vancouver?? The NHL is on Versus until 3 years into the next Presidential term? The guy (or girl if we get Pres. Clinton, part two) who holds that office will be starting the re-election process before the NHL gets to negotiate a deal with any other channel?!?!?
Personally, I have no problems with the Versus production of the game, or their handling of the game. My issue is with the exposure, or lack there of, that the NHL receives by being aired there. If you want a sport to gain popularity, you need to get it in front of the fans. The couple years experiment with Versus was nice, but they're network isn't growing like they or the NHL had planned. Bass fishing, climbing, bull riding, cycling - it sounds like ESPN's line-up on Sunday mornings between 6 and 9.
Why not stop with the exclusivity crap, Gary, and go the way of the NFL and the NBA - get your sport on as many channels as you can. Go back to USA for a bit, a natural since it's in the NBC family of channels. Hit Ted Turner and the boys up to carry a few games. Grovel at the feet of Mickey Mouse to get a game on Wednesday nights at 10PM on the dEuCe. Do something, ANYTHING to expose the sport to more people.
And another thing, while I'm tossing out brilliant ideas, stop running the Ovechkin commercial only during hockey broadcasts. As it turns out, the 400,000 or so people south of the border that tune in to your broadcasts know who Alex is. Pay the NFL a couple bucks, air it there. Buy a slot during 1 vs. 100. During Deal or No Deal. Put AO in front of people who DON'T know who he is.
You shut us out for a year to make the game better. Well, in this fan's opinion, the game is better. But apparently me and roughly the population of Mesa, AZ are the only ones tuning in.