Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune has some good news for Blackhawks fans. The team is trying to get all 82 games on television, and a large chunk of them could be on free tv:
As many as 25-30 could go on free, non-cable TV. WGN-Ch. 9, which carried Hawks games in the 1960s and early ‘70s, and WPWR-Ch. 50 are two possible landing spots.
Monday, March 17, 2008
A fun announcement for those who have the NHL Network in HD:
The NHL Network will simulcast XM’s NHL Live, making the hockey talk radio show the first satellite radio program to be telecast live and high-definition by a TV network.
NHL Network’s HD simulcast of the two-hour weekday show debuts Monday, March 17 at noon (ET).
I don’t have the NHL Network in HD (yet?), but I’m office-bound anyway. So I say enjoy it to those on sick days or those who have TVs in their offices.
I know the NHL is partnered with XM, but I wouldn’t mind catching Sirius’ Hockey Night In Canada to catch whatever Jeff Marek is up to.
Some podcasts/video podcasts would be fun too.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Are Wayne Gretzky and the WWE in cahoots?
It’s a question that needs to be asked after seeing “The Great One” wearing a Wrestlemania shirt in a recent article on Sweden news site Expressen. A picture of Gretzky in the shirt is included in the article.
What’s so significant about that?
Well the WWE hasn’t released any information concerning the event, which according to the shirt, takes place in 2010 so one at least has to wonder how he got his hands on it.
The shirt also reads “Destruction in the Desert”. Could that mean Wrestlemania will be in Arizona in two years?
Hat tip to Rajah for the find.
Update 1/8 2:20 PM: Rajah has more news involving Gretzky and WWE. Apparently the shirt Gretzky was wearing wasn’t made by WWE and is simply a shirt made by a group campaigning to bring Wrestlemania to the Phoenix area in 2010:
The Wrestlemania 2010 hockey jersey that Wayne Gretzky was wearing was not officially made by WWE, but rather it is just another piece of the ongoing campaign to get WM 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. If the show is held in the city, it will likely be at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, which will be hosting the Super Bowl this year. Gretzky is obviously pulling for the event to come to Phoenix, since it is the home of his team the Phoenix Coyotes.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Read/WriteWeb, a web tech blog I read regularly, points to a sister blog, last100, which has a list of where to watch the “big four”: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL online. I realize few refer to the leagues like that anymore, but hey, I still like it.
The list is a quick way of finding out how to catch a game online, whether it’s live or highlights from the night before.
One thing I’ll definitely add to it is that you can watch live games via Yahoo. There are blackout rules, but there’s generally one live game, available for free, every night.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
The Youtube vid above is from KK, who had the video up quickly.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The Chicago Blackhawks look like they have a competitive, entertaining team this season after many seasons of finishing towards the bottom of the Western Conference.
While play can mark the beginning and end of eras in a team’s history, ownership decisions may mark big change for Chicago.
It was announced today that the Hawks are in dicussion with Comcast to get some home games on television. Former owner Bill Wirtz, who passed away almost a month ago, did not allow home games to be broadcast, saying he thought it wasn’t fair for season ticket holders. The Blackhawks are now controlled by one of his sons, Rocky, who made the announcement to employees this afternoon.
Many teams have all games televised. When games aren’t, they’re generally away games. Tomorrow’s game in Chicago against the Blue Jackets isn’t being televised in either market. Fans who order Center Ice aren’t used to being shut out from games, and hopefully the Blackhawks can work with Comcast to stop the Hawks from being part of these instances.
Idea for the NHL: when games aren’t being televised, use the arena feed and the radio call (if there is one) and offer fans the opportunity to watch the game online.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I’m not sure if this is a nation-wide update, but here in NYC we’re now treated to knowing what’s on the NHL Network. The guide from the cable boxes now displays proper programming.
It was similar, but not the same as the schedule on the NHL Network’s website before. This is the schedule for the Canadian version of the network.
The biggest difference has been live games. Carolina vs Pittsburgh was on the schedule last night, but a vintage game was on our network here in the States.
The next live NHL game on the Canadian schedule is October 31st, but according to the guide here, and the ticker I’ve seen on the channel, we should be able to watch Buffalo at Florida this Friday, the 26th. Just as much as the live broadcasts, the late night replays are great for those nights when many games are on at once.
Hopefully a US schedule will be released soon.
Eric McErlain says he needs to pick up an HD tv for the channel. I wish we had that option here (I wish we had Center Ice HD channels as well).
Tapeleg’s not impressed with the network yet. He offers a few suggestions and there are some good comments.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I’m very happy to say I’m watching the NHL Network right now at home, on my television. No tricks, place-shifting, online streams or anything like that. It’s coming right through my cable box. I have Time Warner cable in Manhattan.
The Hollywood Reporter has a story (dated tomorrow) that the channel is coming, but I’m already watching it.
Rumor was the NHL used the Center Ice package to leverage cable companies to carry the channel. It might explain why I wasn’t able to order it until the end of last week. I’ve been able to order it as early as March in previous years (not that I’ll do that again after being double-charged).
The NHL Network is on a sports tier for me that includes NBATV, a few Fox Sports College stations, the Tennis Channel, Fuel and College Sports TV. It’s a package I already subsribe to, so it’s just a big bonus for me. The sports tier is right below the Center Ice channels on my service, so despite the high channel number (458) the location fits well. My Time Warner service has about four blocks of sports channels (not including Fox Sports NY, which is “alone”), you’d think they’d move things around to make it a little easier.
There’s currently no schedule for the guide on my cable box, it’s simply long blocks of “NHL Network”. Hopefully that updates soon.
I wasn’t able to find many details about the Network launching in the States using Google News, but I did come across this very good Q & A with NHL EVP of corporate sales and marketing, John Collins. It’s a good read, with some honest answers.
BW: What marketing lessons were learned from the lockout that are now driving NHL growth?
JC: We are a $2.3 billion business, and a lot of that revenue is through the gates. We have 22 million people at our arenas every year. We have 53 million avid fans in North America. But the big insight we came to after the lockout is that our fans say they love hockey, but they don’t behave like they love hockey. They behave like a million fans of the New York Rangers, a million fans of the Chicago Blackhawks. The passion they have is at a local level, but that doesn’t translate to passion at a league level. If you are a fan of the NFL’s New York Giants, you’ll still watch Monday Night Football even if the Giants aren’t playing. You’ll watch the playoffs and Super Bowl even if the Giants don’t make it. But according to the traditional metrics that tell you about the health and vitality of broadcast ratings, we’re not able to scale at the national level of the NFL, MLB or Nascar. So we don’t feel like a $2.3 billion business; we feel like a $300 million business, like a niche sport like Major League Soccer or AVP [professional volleyball].
In the introduction to the piece is this tidbit:
On Oct. 9, the league will hold a fanfest in New York to celebrate the Oct. 12 opening of its flagship retail store, NHL Powered by Reebok, and its new corporate offices. Features include a hockey-themed Starbucks selling hockey-themed drinks, a studio for live broadcasts, high-def screens to show NHL clips and games in real time, and stations with access to NHL videogames and NHL.com.
I’ve had a good seat for watching the store come to life for a while now (I can see it from my office window). The past week or so things have really picked up. It still looks like there’s a lot to do, but I’m not a store-building expert.
There’s already a Starbucks inside the building the store is in that has little to no signage. It’s called the Secret Starbucks in my office because it’s one of the few places that rarely has a line mid-afternoon. Hopefully the store won’t take that from us… I mean hey, it’s NY, there’s a Starbucks on every corner, why not two?
I’ll try and stop by on opening day and snap a few pictures.
Update 1130pm: Just saw Costa caught the same Q & A. His reaction was similar to mine.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Nope, not Youtube or any other new media experiment, but the good ole boob tube. Outside of arbitration hearings (ok, just Sean Avery’s), the biggest news in the NHL this week is about the league possibly making up with sports broadcasting giant ESPN.
Sports Business Journal reported the two sides are talking:
The NHL and ESPN are in discussions about bringing the league’s games back to ESPN2 as soon as the 2008-09 season.
Multiple sources described the conversations as preliminary. The two started talking the week of July 16 when the NHL approached ESPN about NBC’s nine-game regular-season schedule, plus the playoffs. NBC holds the rights to air the coming season as part of a revenue-sharing agreement, and the network holds a one-year option for the 2008-09 season.
The league has been widely criticized ever since they parted ways with ESPN after the 2003-04 season. From general lack of exposure to the obscurity of their new cable partner Versus, the NHL has been the butt of jokes in the media for a few years now.
Rumors that ESPN was interested in the NHL again surfaced back in January when Versus extended their current deal with the league one more year.
Two Canadian media outlets jumped on the idea of ESPN replacing NBC.
From The Province:
Turn out the lights. The NBC-NHL party is just about over. The U.S. TV network has one year plus an option left on its deal with the hockey league and with numbers sinking faster than the Lusitania the rats are already jumping ship.
From The Globe and Mail:
Still, if the NHL is talking to ESPN, it’s almost certain NBC has informed the league it is preparing to pull out.
Networks make programming decisions months in advance. It’s unlikely the NHL would have approached ESPN unless it knew NBC was not planning to pick up its option.
Whether or not the league is actually looking to replace NBC with ESPN is yet to be seen. It might have just been the best way to get conversation started. Generally, all major sports leagues try to have at least one national broadcast partner at all times. Only the NFL has replaced broadcast with cable, for Monday Night Football (ABC to sister ESPN), although Sunday Night Football moved from cable to broadcast at the same time (NBC replacing ESPN). Since 1995 the NHL has had both broadcast and cable contracts in the U.S.
The word replacement might not be part of any NHL plan. The ideal situation would have the NHL keep any number of games on NBC, get a game per week on ESPN (or most likely, ESPN2) and still have Versus broadcast a couple of more games per week.
Versus currently has the rights to broadcast NHL games on cable exclusively. However, Sports Business Journal includes this tidbit:
The move would mark a change at Versus, as well, which is open to giving up its cable exclusivity if it can tap into ESPN’s marketing prowess. Over the past two years, Versus executives have complained privately that ESPN ignored their network. They are hoping for a situation that mirrors the NBA, where ESPN and TNT push viewers to each network’s games.
Giving up exclusivity for publicity would be a smart move for the young network. ESPN, which has mocked the channel on occasion, would now be helping remind its audience it not only exists, but carries similar content (somewhere Alanis Morissette is smiling).
Despite the jokes directed at Versus, Comcast has done a good job getting it onto more cable systems since the NHL deal was signed, and continuously improving the hockey broadcasts as they’ve gone along. However, they were never able to sign a contract with another major sports league, and they’re far from the ESPN competitor they’d like to be. The NHL isn’t a big enough draw to help bring a steady audience in. The NHL on ESPN could not only help the league, but Versus as well.
Send him ramen noodles
I’m never happy to hear about someone losing their job, but I got a chuckle out of Ray Ferraro’s quote in The Province article from above:
In response, the network has now cancelled its studio show and has reduced three games on Saturday to just one on Sunday.
Gone are Brett Hull, Bill Clement and Ray Ferraro.
“Of course I was disappointed,” says Ferraro. “Three minutes into the call and you know you’ve got to start earning a living some place else.”
David Pratt of The Province thankfully points out Ferraro still has a year left on his Sportsnet contract and CBC seems to be interested. I’ll throw in the little nugget that he also made millions playing the game. No one should be jobless if they’re willing to work, but it just reminded me of Latrell Sprewell wanting to “feed his family” (a little, he’s still working, don’t get too uptight).
Links found through the KK empire
NHL & ESPN Talking - with a good number of comments
Signs Point To NBC Not Picking Up Broadcast Option
Can’t wait for the entire Detroit vs Colorado series…
Friday, June 15, 2007
This week the New York Islanders announced the start of the “Blog Box”:
We’re setting up a BLOG BOX in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum – sort of like a press box, but away from the scribes and broadcasters because we know you want to cheer, shout, have a pretzel and enjoy the game experience on your own terms.
We will provide you with a media pass for a few games next season and a seat in the NYI BLOG BOX. You will also receive your own set of Game Notes when you enter the Coliseum Press Gate. All you have to do is bring your note pad and/or voice recorder and cheer as loudly as you want. After the game you attend, we will set up an area where you can toss a few questions at a coach or players, based on your requests and their availability.
Shortly after the announcement an interview was posted on Deadspin with Isles VP of Communications, Chris Botta. Deadspin’s Will Leitch did a good job keeping it light, yet asking real questions and Botta answered all while not straying from the tone.
Reaction to the concept of the Blog Box has been mixed, and often from the same source.
James Mirtle, blogger and Globe and Mail scribe, was the subject of the Deadspin interview a couple of times. Botta acknowledged a blogger in his position would probably have no problems being in the main press box.
Mirtle’s initial reaction to the Blog Box:
This is a step in the right direction, and it’s nice to see more NHL teams are making allowances for blog coverage, but you can certainly sense the organization’s apprehension here when it comes to putting “fans” in the actual press box.
Would he sit in the Blog Box? In a follow-up post he answers:
I will say this: The only reason I’d ever apply to go to the Blog Box would be to write about its existence (and maybe to have a pretzel).
Let’s put that on the schedule for 2007-08.
I think that’ll be the reaction from anyone outside of the metro area, those with mainstream media ties or any with previous press box experience.
Eric McErlain, who writes for his own blog Off Wing Opinion, along with AOL’s FanHouse and NBCSports.com, isn’t too thrilled about the idea:
I don’t know why anybody would apply for a watered down version of a press pass that only allows guarded access to Islanders players and staff and no access to visiting players at all.
Islanders Army is exactly the type of site the Islanders are aiming for with this type of program. Isles-centric and Murph gives off a pretty sane vibe. Murph makes his intentions known:
Free tickets, pretzels and wireless on Wang? Sounds like a good deal to me, we’ll be sending in our application soon. We’ve got competition, the Islanders said they had 100+ applications already. This move is all about fan access and not some statement by the Islanders in the bloggers vs. professional press debate. I don’t think I’d want a real press pass anyways - being at the game and not being able to chant “Let’s Go Islanders” wouldn’t be fun for me. I might be able to bite my tongue for a regular season game, but if it was a playoff or Rangers game… no way.
So while bloggers like Mirtle and McErlain look to break the blogger-fan stereotype, Murph gladly accepts it, or at least the journalist-fan in-between that the Islanders have created for him.
Nothing is stopping a more established and professional blogger from applying for a real press pass. It’s also not 100% fair to be judging the concept without seeing the final execution. I think the majority of bloggers would prefer the Blog box setup compared to rules and pressure of working with the professional press. I think the Islanders approach is good while it still can be improved over time.
This is one of those situations where everyone seems correct. The Blog Box is innovative, limiting, encouraging, guarded and progressive.
The Islanders want to open up, make sure they get quality coverage from those with access, and not scare away the pros. The pros, besides being protective of their turf, would like to keep their environment as professional as possible. The bloggers simply want more access to the game they love covering, and to possibly get a different perspective on the game.
One audience that hasn’t been mentioned much is the audience of the selected bloggers. Their reaction will be important as to how the Blog Box is accepted. For it to be positive the bloggers must come through with some quality pieces (or why be in the box?), and the Islanders must be thick-skinned about any reasonably written criticism. Readers will be looking for the honest opinions they’ve grown accustomed to. The first sign of a censored blogger and the reputations of both the blogger and the program will be in jeopardy.
I’ve written some considerations for bloggers with press access before, but the Blog Box should be a bit more relaxed than some of my experiences. Remember, just as important as covering the game on the ice, the Blog Box will allow its members to build relationships. Think about both today and tomorrow if you’re one of those who chooses to participate in this program. Oh, and lay off the beer.
While it would have been nice to see the Islanders take an open approach like the Capitals, the Caps are recognized as being an exception to what’s normally a closed-door policy. Instead of moving idly about, waiting to see what happens around the league, the Islanders have decided to be pro-active. It seems cautious, but it’s movement in the right direction and should be an interesting experience for all involved.