Why ESPN doesn’t cover hockey

Discussion in 'Hockey' started by bearclaw500, May 3, 2012.

  1. bearclaw500

    bearclaw500 Guru

    Oct 22, 2011
    Interesting read on ESPN and the NHL.

    Does the NHL need ESPN? It's a question that's been asked in every board room, sponsorship pitch meeting and press box around the NHL since the lockout. It was asked frequently during the early years of the NHL's relationship with Comcast on U.S. cable, as the embarrassing start on Outdoor Life Network begot the growing pains of VERSUS. It's been asked much less frequently now that the NHL is locked into a 10-year television contract with NBC, which has helped to broadcast every Stanley Cup Playoff game in its entirety on national television for the first time in league history — something ESPN didn't, couldn't and wouldn't do. As the NHL continues to build in popularity across every metric in the U.S. — attendance, sponsorship, ratings, social media outreach — the question has now changed. It's no longer "does the NHL need ESPN?" … … it's "Why doesn't ESPN need the NHL?" Chicago-based author and blogger Ed Sherman put the question to Vince Doria, ESPN's senior vice-president and director of news. Doria's answer won't surprise any hockey fan that sees how ESPN covers the NHL on its radio and television platforms* but it's still frustrating to read: "If you go to our radio and television shows, there's not a lot of hockey talk. It doesn't seem like there's a lot of yammer out there to give us hockey talk."

    From Sherman's blog:
    Why does ESPN hate hockey?
    Doria: We don't hate hockey. When I worked in Boston (as sports editor of the Boston Globe), I probably went to more Bruins games than Celtics. There's probably not a better in-the-house sport than hockey. Watching it live. My own personal feeling is that it never transferred well to television. I'm not exactly sure why that is.
    He's right, of course. The NHL and its television partners have never quite figured out how to crack the code on bringing the in-arena experience into the television in your rec room.
    But what does its telegenic nature have to do with what is allegedly total coverage of sports, with at least a halfhearted attempt at journalism? Well, we move on …
    Why does hockey get a limited presence on SportsCenter?
    Doria: It's a sport that engenders a very passionate local following. If you're a Blackhawks fan in Chicago, you're a hardcore fan. But it doesn't translate to television, and where it really doesn't transfer much to is a national discussion, which is something that typifies what we do.
    Baseball fans are interested where Albert Pujols is going. NBA fans are interested in the Miami Heat. For whatever reason, and this is my unsubstantiated research on it, hockey doesn't generate that same kind of interest nationwide. You look at national talk shows. Hockey rarely is a topic. People in Boston aren't that interested with what's going on with the Blackhawks.
    Again, he makes a decent point: Hockey fans can be bitterly loyal. Local ratings drive national ratings, and not every hockey fan is still watching the playoffs after his or her team is eliminated.
    Where his argument falls apart is in evoking Pujols.
    Hockey fans around the country care about Sidney Crosby, love him or hate him. They care about Ovechkin's ice time in Game 2. They care about the old-timers like Selanne and Jagr and Lidstrom, and they care when there are flash-points of violence or controversial calls or suspensions.
    These are national conversations, happening everywhere from social media to blogs to message boards to podcasts. They're just not happening on ESPN.
    From Awful Announcing, which offered its own take on the Q&A:
    At some point, we get to a chicken and egg scenario with ESPN and the NHL. ESPN doesn't talk about the NHL because there isn't enough interest in the sport, but there isn't interest in the sport because ESPN doesn't talk about it. Which comes first? Doria's comments seem a little out of touch, if only for the fact that Boston actually was in the Top 10 markets watching when the Blackhawks beat the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals a couple years ago. Their Game 6 was the most watched NHL game since the 70s and national ratings this year have increased greatly with every playoff game televised nationally.
    If anything, the demand for hockey coverage should be increasing nationally instead of decreasing. But what if ESPN still televised the NHL? Would things be different at all?
    Said Doria: "I guess if we were rights holder, there probably would be a little more attention paid to it. It's typical that would happen."
    Well, until poker gets hot again …
    Look, ESPN has its reasons for not covering hockey. Here's another: It knows we don't watch ESPN for hockey.
    We've been trained not to. "SportsCenter" doesn't play the highlights, the majority of hosts disregard the sport, and their producers opt not to have hockey in the conversation during programming.
    ESPN didn't want the NHL after the lockout. ESPN didn't even mention Lokomotiv, Boogaard, Rypien or Belak in its year in review.
    From Awful Announcing again:
    Where ESPN runs in to trouble with hockey fans is their eternal claim to the mantle of WorldWide Leader in Sports. If that's the case, 36 seconds of highlights after the opening night of the Stanley Cup Playoffs creates a disconnect. With this existing notion in Bristol that the NHL doesn't generate a national discussion, their coverage of the NHL doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon.
    As hockey fans, we adapted, found alternatives, and no longer need the high school quarterback to give us a wink from across the dance floor.
    Why doesn't ESPN cover hockey?
    Because we no longer need it to.

  2. Liverlips

    Liverlips Hall of Famer

    Jun 3, 2007
    Good points here. ESPN doesn't cover the Klitschko's either. It's MMA coverage sucks as well.

    ESPN is racist/black supremacist and the sooner they lose dominance over sports coverage the better.
  3. Matra2

    Matra2 Master

    Jul 6, 2011
    It's painful listening to ESPN pundits like Kornheiser trying to talk hockey. They are clueless. They apply the baseball template (individual player stats etc) to hockey which is just silly as they are totally different sports with hockey being more of a team effort.
  4. white is right

    white is right Hall of Famer

    Feb 16, 2006
    It looks like the Islanders are leaving the Nassau Mausoleam to join the Nets at Barclays arena. ESPN interviewed two Brooklyn fans about the trade. PS they might have found about the only Black fan in the whole borough...:biggrin1:http://espn.go.com/new-york/nhl/sto...eath-fresh-air-beleaguered-new-york-islanders
  5. Europe

    Europe Mentor

    Oct 26, 2008

    Kornheiser was talking soccer several years ago when Robinson tried to kick the ball and the ball bounced over his foot and went it. He said Robinson should have picked the ball up, but he didn't know the rules because an England player kicked the ball back to the keeper so he couldn't pick it up.
  6. Average American

    Average American Mentor

    Dec 10, 2012
    I'm grateful for the coverage Versus (turned NBCsports) has been giving the NHL.. Are there still regional cable channels covering the NHL (?)

    I remember back in the day, in the extended DC. market (VA, MD), there was HTS (HomeTeam Sports) channel, that showed a lot of Caps games.. which turned me on to that franchise. I'm wonderin' if there are still networks like that catering to local hockey markets around the US (?)
  7. jaxvid

    jaxvid Hall of Famer

    Oct 15, 2004
    Heck yes. In the Detroit area the Fox Sports Network might as well be the Red Wings Network from fall to early summer. They cover the Red Wings wall-to-wall and have great ratings doing it. I imaging that other large hockey markets have the same thing. Hockey doesn't need a strong national network to cover the sport as it is the kind of game that has fans that follow the home team mostly, unlike the NFL for example that has fantasy football and DWF's that follow each and every team in detail.
  8. jerseypinebarrens

    jerseypinebarrens Guru

    Aug 21, 2012
    NJ Shore
    Who gives a S%%% about Every Second Promoting Negroes (ESPN)???? Verses, now NBCsports are doing just fine... Here in NJ down the shore I get Verses, Flyer hockey, MSG, MSGplus so I get flyers, devils rangers and islanders. So there's always hockey on tv.
  9. Tannehill17

    Tannehill17 Mentor

    Dec 29, 2012
    Miami FL
    ESPN doesn't promote hockey because it doesn't fit into their Marxist agenda. It doesn't matter to me as I have the NHL Network and follow TSN's coverage, thus making ESPN absolutely useless to me. ESPN to sports is what MTV is to music... in other words, entertainment (as opposed to sports and music) with no substance.
  10. Truthteller

    Truthteller Mentor

    Oct 19, 2009
    ESPN actually provided very good (not great) coverage of the NHL when they have televised games on the network. Last time they had hockey, was the 2004 Stanley Cup, which featured Tampa Bay and Calgary.

    When they did have the NHL, they had a 30 minute 'Hockey Tonight' almost every night, featuring that creepy tall dude on Sports Center (Buccigross) with either Ray Ferraro or Barry Melrose and they showed hi-lights of every game. They also showed a lot more hockey hi-lights on Sports Center. I also recall they had a young, unknown Erin Andrews in stands for all the key playoff and Stanley Cup games in 2004.

    I think, in the end, ESPN decided that they had so much marketing clout that they could really "low-ball" the NHL in TV rights contract negotiations after the canceled season. Of course, Bettman went to Versus and got his money. ESPN then pretty responded by putting the NHL on "ignore mode". It has remained that way for more than 7 years now, even though ESPN did make a move to get the NHL back in 2011, but lost out to NBC Sports.
  11. Don Wassall

    Don Wassall Administrator Staff Member

    Sep 30, 2004
    The San Antonio Spurs have the highest local TV ratings of any NBA team -- 8.08.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins have the highest local TV ratings of any NHL team -- 7.57.

    And of course NHL teams draw as well as NBA teams.

    Yet one is treated as a "niche" sport, while the other is given as much coverage as baseball, maybe more. Hell, the WNBA probably gets more coverage on ESPN than the NHL does. Despite the huge discrepancy in coverage, the NHL and NBA are very comparable in popularity; the difference in coverage of the two sports by ESPN and the rest of the corporate media derives solely from a long-standing social and racial agenda.

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