Sports Outside the Beltway

NHL Faces CBC Anger Over NBC

Playoff scheduling by the league has raised the ire of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) and many Canadian hockey fans.

It’s bad enough the Toronto Maple Leafs mismanaged and misplayed themselves out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers were both too lousy to qualify for the post-season doesn’t please many Canadian hockey fans either.

But now, to add insult to injury, Saturday’s Ottawa Senators-Pittsburgh Penguins game has been shifted to the afternoon to appease NBC.

No Hockey Night in Canada featuring a Canadian-based team. Instead, we get the trap-happy New Jersey Devils against the also-ran Tampa Bay Lightning.

NBC only bothers televising National Hockey League games in the afternoon, and it wants this game because Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby is the game’s marquee attraction. He’s young (just 19), successful (the NHL regular-season scoring champion) and plays hockey with a reckless abandon that endears him to fans everywhere.

One would think that this decision would be a no-brainer for the NHL suits, and league commissioner Gary Bettman. This season, the CBC is paying the NHL $65-million for the rights to broadcast hockey games. And the CBC has also extended its contract with the league for six years at a total of $600 million.

NBC pays nothing for the rights to broadcast NHL games. Instead it has a profit-sharing agreement with the league. Which begs the obvious question of why the NHL would bow to NBC’s request, rather than side with the CBC, which is paying the league all those millions.

Its hard not to blame the Canadians for being mad, their big teams aren’t in and now they can’t watch one of the few Canadian Teams in the playoffs as well as one of the best players in the game. Hockey Night in Canada is their Monday Night Football and they feel its a god given right to have the best teams (or the teams they want to see) playing. Unfortunatlly the league sees reality, the game is at critical mass in Canada. They don’t have to invest in Canada to attract fans in Canada it part of the Canadian gene make up, butthe NHL does need to invest heavily in the US to get the game fan base growing and the way they see doing that is getting the msot exciting young players in the game on US broadcast TV. The NHL need NBC (not vise versa), NBC can choose from a host of sports that would pull in simialr rates and make jsut as much money. Its a choice the NHL was willing to make as they try to become a big sport again, even though it may not work the have to try it.

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Bettman screwed Canada and CBC.

He needs to be fired… he’s ruining the game and shows no respect towards it!

Posted by Joe | April 12, 2007 | 03:46 pm | Permalink

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