There will be a news conference today at 1 pm at which the NHL should announced that they have signed with NBC/VS for TV rights for 10 years.
ESPN and NBC/VS were the only two stations left in the deal as Fox and Turner had dropped out when the bidding topped $200 million/year. Supposedly ESPN was having a very tough time getting a deal as NBC/VS were allowed to match any deal that ESPN made (as if NBC was a RFA).
So if this is true, and it seems that it is, what do you all think about it?
Personally, I am split on the issue. I like how VS dedicates a lot of time to hockey. The highlights show is great. And on double-headers, they easily dedicated 7 hours a night to hockey. But in the regular season, they show Monday and/or Tuesday games typically every week, but apart from that, no other games. And we all know how the games seem to include the same teams all the time. Not to mention their exclusive deal the NHL gave them screws over a bunch of other teams (especially us) for broadcasting those Monday and Tuesday games.
And then NBC's coverage is just lackluster. They only start picking up one or two games every week or so after the Winter Classic, and they dedicate little time before or after the game to it. Once the game ends, it often cuts to local NBC news. And again, they seem to focus on the same few teams.
Now about ESPN. Obviously, most people who like sports watches ESPN. People certainly know what ESPN is. Can you go up to a random sports fan and ask them what channel Versus is? Can you ask them what channels hockey plays on? Versus isn't even widely available, and hockey on NBC is poorly advertised. ESPN would certainly increase viewership and popularity of hockey. But the problem I see with ESPN is that they obviously won't dedicate as much time to hockey as Versus does. I'm sure we will have the same issue of them broadcasting the same few teams and only showing one game every now and then. They certainly won't be dropping any coverage of college sports, the NFL (after the lock-out), or the NBA anytime soon. So where will hockey fit in? Is the increased viewership better for the NHL?
So overall, I think a deal with NBC/Versus would be better if NBC Universal overhauls what they are doing. I want to see games on NBC every weekend from the start of the regular season (unless there are scheduling conflicts with any of the other sports they show). And I want to see more a variety of teams and better coverage of the games. I'd also like NBC to work to get Versus more widely available on different television providers around the country and to try and affiliate Versus as being the NBC sports channel, perhaps by changing the channel name to "NBC Sports." And on the Versus side of things, while I am pretty content with their coverage and I expect we will get the best coverage on that channel, I think they should show a few more games a week, especially on weekends.
So what do you all think?