On the Topic Of Second-Screen Viewing

As the St. Louis Blues closed out their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, the NBC machine rolled on with all the stock lines that Mike Emrick has compiled through his years of broadcast and recycle them for this moment. Pierre McGuire talked to a player and told him to have fun. Eddie Olczyk was probably looking at the race form for the track tomorrow. Then when their NBC slotted time was up, they all left and let the NBCSN crew take it from there.

That’s when I thought…why are they just now getting a bigger chance on the biggest stage for their sport?? It seems like they had to be put in some position post-game to warrant getting shipped out there and all of that. There’s times in Jeremy Roenick’s interviewing that you prayed for Pierre to come back and talk to these guys– because he knows how to and JR really doesn’t.

It also makes me wonder if there’s a chance that NBC and NBCSN can team up for possible clinching games to have a two-screen experience and an alternate to their regular coverage that people would want to see. Granted, that would maybe hurt ratings by splitting them, but ratings are in actuality a scheme created by boxing and wrestling to make something bigger than it actually is and in the end– it means nothing. I mean, hell– NBCSN was showing tape-delayed Monster Jam episodes which, I’m sure has an audience, but they’ll still be watching at midnight and beyond for that stuff or during one of the many replays they’ll have.

The second-screen thing for a championship has been done before by NBC and NBCSN for NASCAR’s final race of the year in Homestead. The main network had the usual race broadcast with the regular broadcasting crew, whereas NBCSN had the in-car cameras for each of the Championship 4 contenders, more in-car audio, and alternate commentators to give another side of the spectrum.

Granted, the two sports are different animals, but you have to look at the possibility of alternate camera work, alternate broadcasters, or even a possible “Watch Along” thing where there’s people brought in to comment over the game, as if you were in a bar setting. It’s something that maybe by that time– people are sick of Doc, Eddie, and Pierre, maybe people would like a different take, maybe people want another option, and– like me– maybe people cut the cord and have a crappy antenna and live in the middle of nowhere so they can’t get local channels unless they get YouTube TV….or something.

Yet, what better way to create a buzz for your broadcast than to have different viewing options for the biggest games?? Sportsnet has like 190 different channels that they could do the same thing with different people. There’s plenty of talking heads that can be there to fill the void of the dead spaces, so what’s the issue with having an alternative to the original?? Some people may like the traditional way better, whereas you could hook some new people onto the alternate voices, as well. Variety can be good and having options is great, too. Couldn’t hurt to try.

How to Fix the NHL Network With New BAMTech/Disney Venture

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As I sit here and watch the NHL Network’s lack of diversity in their programming, I’m wondering if there’s a way that Disney/ESPN can make the network better.

I wonder this after Disney acquired BAMTech, which holds the digital rights and direction of the NHL Network for the NHL. This, of course, was something that sparked some discussion this past week about ESPN finally being able to show hockey again…sort of. With the Disney purchase, that means that ESPN would be able to stream games through NHL.TV and, I’m sure, ESPN3 will have some kind of hand into this pot.

Let’s be honest– the ESPN streaming idea could be a thing that saves the idea of the NHL Network if they are willing to change up the format, add new life into the network with new show ideas and concepts, and if they get some different voices on there aside from the same rotation of people we see on the network already.

Yes, it’s the NHL Network, but could it hurt for them to expose some other leagues more than just games in the AHL and Major Junior leagues once a week?? Maybe a weekly recap or feature show?? That shows you are letting the hockey fan inside the top prospects that could be coming into the league soon enough.

However, right now– it’s easier to go ahead and show the same garbage Top-20 List every hour on the hour and then NHL Tonight and NHL On the Fly in the other parts of the day. When it’s not any of that, it’s the same specials about the same events over and over again.

It’s something that makes me furious about the NHL Network because the archive they have and the ability they have to show off games from the past is something some people would love to see. To have shows with former players and the stories they can tell in an intimate setting (see the format for WWE’s Table for 3). But the NHL Network and the people running it are lazy when it comes to ideas. Do a copy/paste of what you think people want to see and call it good.

It’s not hard to make the NHL Network successful. There’s plenty of ideas out there to be had to improve upon what they have now, but at the same time– the drive has to be there as well. That latter point is really the thing holding the NHL Network away from being a completely relevant source for hockey fans to go to for entertainment outside of the games themselves.

Fixing the NHL on TV: NHL Awards

In this format, I’m going to see what could be done by the NHL to help their off-ice product hit a little more with viewers and actually have people give a damn about what they throw on there. Also, what could actually be put onto the NHL Network or NBCSN or wherever and really hit hard. 

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I mocked the NHL Awards. I mocked it hard. I mocked it when broadcasting.

Outside of NASCAR, I think it’s the NHL is the only sport that has their awards banquet televised (EDIT: The NBA is putting their awards show on TV for the first time this year). To be honest, it’s very unnecessary and with all the dull sketches, terribly written banter, and awkward moments– shows that it doesn’t need to be on TV at all. But, if the NHL insists on broadcasting it– here’s some things to make it better.

POINT 1: Put it on NHL.TV: The TV aspect doesn’t work. Only 2.3-million people watched the Awards show across the three networks covering it. The fact you needed to actually span this out along with the Expansion Draft showed that no one cared. If you put this all on NHL.TV, not only do more people have to log onto the site and bump those pageviews, but it’s not a big thing for the ratings bug that the NHL, NASCAR, and WWE overly care about.

POINT 2: Don’t force celebrity hosts: Joe Manganiello is a lot of things, but a host of an award show, I don’t think he is. Of course, not entirely his fault, but there were so many other people that hockey people know that could have been in that position. Though, any team who has a host that pays attention to him would go over the top with that stuff, like Manganiello did– hell, if I was host and the Caps won, I’d be intolerable. But Jay Baruchel would have been great in that role, rather than a presenter, hell– put a host of the NHL on NBCSN or Sportsnet there; like Daren Millard or Liam McHugh there. Sure, they aren’t funny– but it’s not meant to be funny. Just put people out there who know how to move from one part to another in an almost seamless way.

POINT 3: Lessen Awkward Moments: Look, that Marcel Dionne thing is bad….like, Joe Namath bad. You know what could have helped that?? Not having odd-ball presenters that don’t have any kind of tie to each other or just meet seconds before they go out on stage. Sure, it’d be boring and all that, but if people know each other– you can have the awkward moments not happen and if there is a bind, they can get out of it better than most. Or just have the host be the presenter of every award, too.

POINT 4: Don’t give them away beforehand: I know there’s some awards we don’t care about as a whole, but if you have to give them away the day before– maybe they’re not worth giving away. Sure, the Expansion Draft helped bump those awards to the day before but maybe they were test driving awards not being televised. Sure, one of the awards was the Mark Messier Award, but as long as someone cares about winning it– they should get the accolades in front of the crowd rather than random assembled media. Of course, they shouldn’t have gotten bump– which leads me to….

POINT 5: Don’t combine anything with it: The Awards should be special and by putting the Expansion Draft with it lessens both allure. There was no need to combine them, especially when you saw how awkward Bill Foley and George McPhee looked on stage during the whole thing. Let the Awards breathe and speak for themselves. No need to mix anything with it.

POINT 6: Enough with the music: There’s no need for the Arkells to be there. I’m sure they’re great in their own right, but I’m sick of the music that the NHL throws at events that hockey fans are pretty “meh” about. Look at Neon Trees at the Draft Fan Fest this weekend– they were a “meh” pick. Is there a need for music?? Probably not– so let’s do away with it except for the All-Star Game and maybe the outdoor games.

Okay, that’s that– it’s the summer and it’s going to be stuff like this that could make things better or marginally watchable. That’s all I want to convey.