I’m going to start off by saying, although I’m talking about sports, this is not an entirely sports related blog post. Yesterday, the NHL announced that it would be continuing its partnership with NBC/Versus and will exclusively show hockey games on those family of channels. This is a curious move because the NHL rejected a bid from ESPN. Now, I am a huge ESPN fan, I can’t deny it. But recently, my alliances are moving a bit towards hockey, but that’s based more on my annoyance with the NFL. But for the NHL to spurn ESPN is fascinating!
You could argue that if any sport wants to succeed, it has to go through ESPN, in some form or fashion. I mean, what self-respecting sports fan doesn’t watch ESPN at some point during the day? I know I do. I’m watching it now. It’s almost like the NHL is daring ESPN, goading them into some sort of fight. I don’t know that they can win.
But what I have learned over the course of a year of indulgence into hockey is that it is very much a niche sport. Everyone doesn’t like hockey, everyone won’t ever like hockey. And by that token, I think some die-hard hockey fans don’t like their sport being mixed with others. I’d argue that this is a foolish move on the NHL’s part, but I have to admit, it might have merit. I think the relationship that the NHL has currently with NBC allows them to have more control over what games go on and when, something I have no doubt an ABC-owned company would never relinquish.
Just to give you some perspective, and prove I did some reading, the NHL will be making $2 billion on this deal 10-year deal; the NFL makes $20 billion through next season, assuming there is one. It isn’t like the NHL is getting greedy. And I’d argue ESPN probably played hard for this in the sense that they also aren’t sure about this Fall’s football season. I’m actually happy they didn’t go with ESPN, it proves that hockey is its own sport, I only hope I don’t regret their decision later when I can’t watch a game I want to watch, or don’t get the highlights on ESPN.
In interesting news, I still have not played my brand new NHL 11 game yet…every time I get home, after the gym, I immediately start watching playoff hockey…its like a drug! But I’ll happily review that soon enough! Also, I lied, this is totally a sports related blog post, tricked you though, didn’t I?