NBC & NBCSN recently released their NHL broadcasting schedule for the upcoming season and honestly, it’s a schedule filled with errors and incompetence.
First, you find the humorous errors like “Wednesday Night Rivalry Night between the Blue Jackets and Sabres”.
Ya… nothing makes a casual hockey fan want to circle October 25th on their calendar like a riveting match between Cam Atkinson & Jack Eichel. Maybe we’ll see some draw dropping plays from Rasmus Ristolainen and Seth Jones. (Side note: Seth Jones might be the most boring name in the NHL).
For die-hard fans, its fine, they get to see 99 games broadcast on National TV. But the NHL doesn’t need to sell the game to die-hard fans. They need to bring in more casual fans and grow the game. That’s where my issue comes with this whole topic.
You don’t grow the game by putting Tomas Tatar on national TV 15 times a season. You grow the game by putting the most exciting players on the largest stage.
That’s why I have an issue with Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews only appearing a combined total of 6 times. SIX. TIMES. The most exciting youngest stars will be marketed across the USA for a total of 6 games during this next season.
How do you market a midweek game between the Flyers and The Bruins or any game similar to that? You really can’t. The majority of casual hockey fans don’t care, and you certainly won’t attract any new ones by doing this.
I know that hockey traditionalists will come at me and say that the Original 6 games are great and the classic match-ups are awesome, but again, casual hockey fans don’t care about a pair of old franchises duking it out for 3rd in the Metropolitan. No matter how bad you want to believe that people care about “hockey tradition”… they don’t.
Look To The Hardcourt
If the NHL wants to know how to market their sport properly, they need to look at the NBA.
I’m a casual NBA fan, if there is a game on national TV between the Knicks and Lakers (two large markets), I’m not watching that game.
If there’s a game one with either the Golden State Warriors or LeBron James, I’ll be tuning in.
Now, let’s convert that to NHL language.
Casual fans more or less do not care about Boston vs Philadelphia. Patrice Bergeron and Claude Giroux are honestly just not that intriguing to the casual fan.
Connor McDavid? Auston Matthews? Patrick Kane? Crosby and The Pens? Hell yeah that’s going to get people to tune in.
So when I look at the American National Broadcast Schedule, I should not see 15 games broadcasted from The Little Caesars Arena.
I should see “McDavid vs Mathews” or “Matthews Returns To Arizona” or “Crosby vs McDavid” or maybe even “#1 vs #2, Matthews vs Laine”.
We are entering a golden age for young talent in the NHL, and that should present a golden opportunity to grow the game.
The NHL needs to step up.