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.

On the Topic Of Parity, Marketing, and Bitterness of the NHL Playoffs

The other day, a writer for The Athletic tweeted something “edgy” about the comparison about the NHL and NBA playoffs. It’s often something that circles the wagon of hockey fans to unite in saying how much better hockey is than basketball. To which NBA fans couldn’t care less because they are focused on their playoffs because they don’t have a chip on their shoulder about their sport’s standing in the US.

Ah, yes– the great parity debate and the great “playoff system is broken” rallying cry. Look, I’ve gone over the playoff system before and it’s not great, but it’s the best we’ve got since people wanted more rivalries. In the new system, the only match-up that would have been changed is the Bruins would face the Penguins and the Islanders would have the Maple Leafs. For what it’s worth, the Eastern and Western Conferences would have had the same match-ups in the second round with re-seeding.

Shocking. Something doesn’t go Toronto’s way and people kick up a giant fuss. To counter that– because it seems he heard a lot of that– he tweeted this.

To which, another user had a reply to him to counterpoint this writer:

You cannot compare the two playoffs– so doing such is stupid. The NBA has clear winners and losers in their game. There’s no point for an overtime loss– it’s just a loss and no ground gained for the losing team. Hockey’s one point for extra time loss. Why even have the loser point anymore?? Just have a straight loss and that’s that. No incentive for losing, actually play to win the damn game.

More over…isn’t parity something that people love about hockey…hell, love about sports?? Are Toronto media and fans– OF ALL PEOPLE– tired of parity happening and other teams in maybe non-traditional markets actually getting some kind of success at the expense of them?? It’s a helluva thing, isn’t it??

Yet, there’s a much better thing that people are missing from the amount of parity that happens in the league and that’s the casual fan being lost during playoff parity. Look, I won’t lie– I go back and forth when it comes to parity in hockey all the time. As much as I like the idea long-shot story being a thing…it does hurt the casual fan base in the US and thus, the ratings– which is really what people look at when it comes to judging the popularity of a sport. Losing the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, PK Subban, and to a lesser extent (not a short joke) Johnny Gaudreau– they are names that are somewhat recognizable to the casual hockey viewer.

Of course, that then falls on the NHL, NBC, and the marketing of them both. NBC wants ratings, so they’ll go with teams that have a bigger following nationally– rightly or wrongly. When you hang your hat on those teams, you leave a lot of room for error and a lot of room for people missing out on teams that should be profiled later on in the season. The NHL wants to put out their superstars– so the Caps and Pens are thrown out on national broadcast ad nauseum.

It’s really up to the NHL’s marketing department to work with NBC to make people care about players in Carolina and Dallas and Colorado and the other markets who are underserved. There’s no conceivable reason that every team cannot be the focus of some of these Wednesday Night Hockey deals that NBCSN has. Hell, the NBC afternoon games would be great for the teams out west with an afternoon eastern start time.

So, how did this start as a self-righteous Toronto writer comparing the remaining seeds of the NHL and NBA to the marketing of the NHL and NBC need to be better?? I don’t know. Things just work that way. The point is the NHL needs to be better for their teams so that when some of these teams goes on a “shocking playoff run,” it won’t matter that some of the top names are out because the NHL and NBC would be profiling stars across the league by showing their games rather than just mentioning them in passing during the season in highlight packages.

More Coverage is More Gooder

NHL on NBC

With Game Six being the end of the NHL season, NBC took center stage as the Pittsburgh Penguins took home their second straight Stanley Cup and fifth overall to the delight of many and the disgust of many more. However, while NBC did have the game itself, couldn’t the NHL and their rightsholder have done more to make this coverage an even bigger deal for fans??

Full disclosure: I’m a cord-cutter and use SlingTV as my main visual aspect of getting games on top of NHL.TV for coverage. The closest NBC tower is 40 miles away and getting a good reception in this wind field that is North Dakota is near impossible and with the NBC Sports App, you apparently need a cable provider to sign up and have them be cool with it. If you have any ways to legally get around it, then let me know in the comments because my dumbass doesn’t know how to.

Is there a reason the NHL didn’t make a possible series-clinching game one of the biggest events over their networks of coverage?? Granted, NBCSN did have their own stuff to cover, like the new-to-you showing of the Canadian Grand Prix (which had happened that afternoon) that night after their pre-game coverage to Game Six; but why not put NHL Network to work for something like this?? Maybe give hockey fans an alternative to the claptrap they have to endure with NBC’s announcers, like playing the Sportsnet/CBC coverage on the NHL Network to give another aspect of the game with different voices than that of what NBC pushes onto fans.

Sure, it was nice to see the NHL Network play Sportsnet’s “NHL Classic” series where they have pop-up video elements over classic games in a sixty-minute span, but wouldn’t some kind of alternate simulcast be just as good for hockey fans?? Maybe do to the series-clinching games like ESPN does with the NCAA National Championship Football MegaCast in putting different analysts on a simulcast of the game to give their differing opinions.

The second-screen experience is what other sports give their fans. Whether it be through radio calls, enhances stats during the game, or some other alternative to what the main broadcast is, it seems that the NHL has lacked that for a time and is behind on a lot of sports in that nature. Even if it’s just giving an alternative viewing, why not have people watching something rather than be mad at the broadcast team they have now. Hell, why not just get rid of the group of people you have and get new blood in there– but that’s another discussion for another time.

Like I said, NBCSN probably does have other properties they have to show contractually, so they might not be available to pull off this kind of thing, especially when it’s not a one-and-done thing. However, NHL Network hasn’t proved that they are showing anything but reruns of old games or some random animated show hosted by Boomer Esiason. Why not utilize this league dedicated network to the Cup Final series and give fans an alternative and a reason to watch that channel outside of the On The Fly aspect during the season. To do something like that with the Cup-clinching games (at least) could get people to actually tune into the channel and give a fresh spin for those who are overly sick of the NBC talking heads.

I just feel that if you have a big event like the Cup-clinching game, more than just NBC would be the spot to watch, especially when the auxiliary channels deal with the bulk of the post-game after the Cup is won due to local news or some other NBC program coming on after the game’s time-slot.  Make it a big event because it’s the biggest event of the hockey year. Hell, even if you have to do it two or three or four times, why not do it and treat it like a big deal?? Just seems there’s so much to do when it comes to the broadcast that is left on the table by letting NBC keep it to just one channel for the game itself and not give a second-screen experience that other sports give their fans.