NHL needs more network respect

Old people, an inevitably shitty sitcom and a two episodes of whichever Law & Order spinoff airs on Wednesdays. That is what will be appearing, nation-wide, on NBC tomorrow evening. Meanwhile, on NBC Sports Network, you can potentially watch the Los Angeles Kings end a franchise-long Stanley Cup drought with a series sweep of the New Jersey Devils.

Who wouldn’t want to watch an old people version of Punk’d?

In case, you haven’t heard, ratings for this year’s Cup Finals are down compared to the last few seasons. There are plenty of determining factors here. New Jersey has fallen behind fast, the Kings are a tough draw for anyone East of the Mississippi and the Devils are also far behind that of a team like Boston in terms of market share.  There has also been the arguments made for the lack of star power in the series. While that isn’t inaccurate, I don’t think it is a primary reason for the lack of attention. Think about it, the Bruins and Canucks don’t have any stars that register on a national level in the US either.While there isn’t one thing to blame, you could certainly point to the lack of access for those who do wish to watch the series. Starting on a weekday and then transitioning to the weekend opened a big game between games one and two and with games three and four being shown on NBC Sports Network, there isn’t much room for improvement.

One thing that isn’t different is the impact being made in the participating cities. While New Jersey has dwindled with their team, LA is building more steam as the Cup gets closer to their grasp. My argument that individual success in big markets is drumming up interest in the sport hasn’t changed. It is just the impact nationally that hasn’t improved this season. Perhaps if the NBC family realized that bumping a potential deciding game to a cable network only a fraction of the country has would be a major mistake. What is particularly pathetic is that the Finals will be pre-empted on the main network by yet another silly lineup of network shows.

After American Ninja Warrior and Grimm kept their slot on Monday, Off Their Rockers, Up All Night and a pair of Law & Order episodes will remain on NBC tomorrow evening while the potential clinching game of the Stanley Cup will be played on cable. It is no secret that the NHL still has a ways to go in order to reclaim part of the national spotlight, but things like this aren’t helping. Continue reading