August 18, 2005

ESPN reports NHL to be broadcast on Comcast/OLN: Any chance of ESPN running a FHL this season? To be honest, I didn't think ESPN would even pick up the story.

posted by garfield to hockey at 09:20 AM - 33 comments

ESPN ran its own story to get ahead of critics with spin like this: For the networks that have had hockey, including Fox and ESPN, investing in growing the hockey audience simply didn't pay off when considering how much more they had invested in other sports programming. I'm disappointed to lose ESPN's NHL team. I wonder how many will be able to work for OLN.

posted by rcade at 09:26 AM on August 18

I think ESPN is making a big mistake. Yes its going to take a while for the fans to come back. I think it shows how "snooty" ESPN has gotten. Covering the NHL, helped built the network to wear its at today. For years, covering the "smaller sports" brought viewers to ESPN. I guess they feel that they dont need the NHL now that they have so much of MLB,NFL and the NBA. To think that this will mean more original ESPN programing. hoorah! :-(

posted by daddisamm at 09:35 AM on August 18

Since they are now showing ESPN/Hollywood every night at 6pm, I'm glad the NHL is distancing itself from the network.

posted by garfield at 09:48 AM on August 18

$200 million seems like a big chunk of change for Comcast to invest (I'm guessing this is their attempt to turn OLN into an ESPN competitor). Can't wait for the adjustment in my cable bill. Here's hoping they can at least manage to put a few good games on in HD.

posted by yerfatma at 09:51 AM on August 18

I wonder if this will affect center ice on DirecTv. Also getting back to this from last week, how can you show programming on a network that features outdoor lifestyles when this game is played indoors? This can only help this channel and comcast seeing as both aren't much to begin with. I had comcast cable a couple of years ago and found it to be an overpriced bill I had to deal with every month. As far as espn goes, I guess these new original shows they offer can carry the weight during those lulling times when the major sports aren't taking place. Once baseball season is over, the only reason I'll have to watch espn now for is for the one football game on sunday night and sportscenter. At this same time, I guess none of us hockey fans can complain too much ourselves. At least We got our hockey back!

posted by melcarek69 at 10:01 AM on August 18

ESPN is turning into MTV in its heyday...First came the 24 hours of music, then the music stories and news of them, and finally things that have absolutely nothing to do with music at all {real world, road rules and that idiot Tom Green}. I want my ESPN & MTV!

posted by melcarek69 at 10:05 AM on August 18

Aside from the MLB, NFL & NBA stuff, there'e a lot of crap on ESPN. World's Strongest Man and This Week In Poker aren't programming, they're grounds for someone to get fired. But you can't argue with the Worldwide Leader, I guess. Sports like go fish, canasta and competitive suntanning are going to bring ESPN into the next century, and that's just how it is. The thing about OLN is that they're following a successful business model for making a successful sports network. They have the Tour (I'd expect some expanded coverage of other bike races next year) and the Running of the Bulls (a fun week if you haven't seen it), and then they fill the sked with fishing and mountaineering shows. Like ESPN 20 years ago, OLN has the mandate and the desire to fill a niche in sports programming, but not the market share. The NHL is, sadly, a perfect fit now as then. And right now, OLN can go wall-to-wall with NHL programming during the season if they like. This is not the worst thing in the world.

posted by chicobangs at 10:13 AM on August 18

speaking of fishing shows, this one kicks mucho asso.

posted by garfield at 10:19 AM on August 18

I wonder if this will affect center ice on DirecTv. That's a great point. For OLN to succeed (along the lines chico laid out), don't they have to get offered on Comcast's competition (whether it's Direct TV or RCN or whomever)? Not that I'm worried about working out a deal with Cablevision; when's Charles Dolan ever been a pain in the ass about a cable deal?

posted by yerfatma at 10:38 AM on August 18

Well, I think there is a net benefit to this for the NHL - ESPN would have treated it like a stepchild - minimal promotion and timeslots. OLN can use it as a lynchpin program and promote the hell out of it. By the time the contract is up, we'll see if the NHL has sufficiently rebounded and can command a much better commitment. And hockey is in it's birth and development was an outdoor sport - so, meh, on the whole 'but it's an indoor game' bellowing. Who gives a shit.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:45 AM on August 18

Any indication that the OLN in Canada is part of that deal? I am not sure if there is any distinction. But the afternoon lineup on OLN Canada today seems to be: 12pm Carribbean Workout 12.30 Extreme Edge 1pm Bowflex Infomercial 1.30pm Treadclimber Infomercial 2pm Bowflex Infomercial while on OLN in the States it would be: 12pm SHOOTING USA 12.30pm GANDER MOUNTAINS: WE LIVE OUTDOORS 1pm L.L. BEAN'S GUIDE TO THE OUTDRS 1.30pm WHATA CATCH So it doesn't look like they are exactly the same channel. Not that Canadian TV is starved for hockey, if I recall.

posted by gspm at 10:59 AM on August 18

Oh we sure are - just not come October.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:21 AM on August 18

Yeah, I'm curious as to whether OLN Canada will get in on this too (or if there are restrictions preventing them to do so, since they'd be competing with TSN). Somehow, I don't think they will. Definitely wouldn't mind more hockey broadcasts here, though, and doing this would certainly boost OLN's ratings here.

posted by mkn at 11:51 AM on August 18

YES - IT'S CALLED TSN AN-*Ahem, cough, hmph - ah*. Yes, there is - it's called TSN and is part owned by ESPN, but does not carry the same programing. Some of it. Mostly shit.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:02 PM on August 18

Aren't OLN and TSN part of the same thing up here? OLN's sports stuff (Tour, Stampede, etc.) is all accessible through TSN's website. This would imply that they won't be competing with TSN so much as showing stuff that TSN want to. (Like anything other than the Leafs, for example.)

posted by fabulon7 at 01:28 PM on August 18

Actually the truth is all the sports stations in Canada are owned by one man.... Who lives deep in the Artic and subsists only on a diet of Kraft dinner and maple syrup. He comunicates with the Board of Directors via a complex series of smokes singles. The man, who's name as never been made public, has worn the same pair of long underwear for the last 4 years, yet changes socks more than a dozen times a day....

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:36 PM on August 18

Joe Clark?

posted by fabulon7 at 01:48 PM on August 18 October 5, Rangers at Flyers. I'm sure it's going to be all Ranger and Flyers all the time, but I'm still excited. Game on, motherfuckers!

posted by NoMich at 01:59 PM on August 18

Comcast is indeed bent on building a competitor to ESPN, and they'll most likely do so by shifting both the OLN name and brand. I'm excited. As some of you have pointed out, Comcast won't have any fear of promoting the heck out of this, which can only be good for hockey. And those of us in Portland may have another reason to think we'll get a relocated NHL team soon: the hockey-perfect Rose Garden arena is now owned by Comcast, too. Gotta have content! The only scary part is having Comcast involved in so many aspects of all this. But what the hell, that's nothing new. I'v already accepted my fate as a Mickey Mouse drone.

posted by diastematic at 02:54 PM on August 18

I wouldn't worry about other cableco's not carrying OLN due to ownership--there's plenty of that going on, the niggest example being Time Warner (2nd biggest cable system operator, HBO, TBS, TNT...).

posted by billsaysthis at 02:55 PM on August 18

bill, that's a pretty nig example indeed.

posted by chicobangs at 03:07 PM on August 18

I would much rather watch an infomercial than a stanley cup playoff game....

posted by playball9 at 04:00 PM on August 18

Hopefully ESPN will have more time to show the Great Outdoor Games with those cool dogs long jumping into the water. ESPN broadcasting Great Outdoor Games and OLN broadcasting indoor hockey? Hmmmmmmmm

posted by panteeze at 04:10 PM on August 18

have a cookie

posted by garfield at 04:14 PM on August 18

I would much rather watch an infomercial than a stanley cup playoff game.... Then why even come into a hockey thread? I can think of a couple of choice Glengarry quotes that would fit real well here.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:26 PM on August 18

ESPN and its related networks did not have room for hockey because of the networks' commitment to more high quality sporting events, such as the Little League Softball World Series that is being played tonight.

posted by graymatters at 05:59 PM on August 18

I was actually interested on the spin ESPN would put on this, and I must say I'm gonna miss Barry Melrose's mullet..

posted by playball9 at 09:06 AM on August 19

ESPN and its related networks did not have room for hockey because of the networks' commitment to more high quality sporting events, such as the Little League Softball World Series that is being played tonight. They don't want to take away time from poker repeats, either. I'm disappointed to lose ESPN's NHL team. I wonder how many will be able to work for OLN. I suspect that there might be a smooth transition, actually. Bill Clement does a few minor sports, but Barry Melrose is all about the mullethockey. Is ESPN really going to hold them to any contract?

posted by etagloh at 10:47 AM on August 19

Nah, Melrose will go to OLN if they give him even a partway decent offer. Gary Thorne might too. Mike Emrick is still around, and this could be an opportunity for a good local play-by-play person to step up, which would be welcome. John Davidson and that dinosaur Stan Fischler don't have exclusive contracts and would go anywhere to talk about this stuff, and there might be a couple of surprise departures from ESPN too. EJ Radhek might go, and if they they offer Buccigross the studio hosting job, he might go too. (I hope they don't. I can't stand him. But I'm just saying.) I wonder Kelly Hrudey's role on Hockey Night In Canada is going to be expanded this year. If all the on-camera folks are staying put for a while, I could see him coming down to help out too.

posted by chicobangs at 02:10 PM on August 19

Panger! What about Panger?

posted by Samsonov14 at 05:17 PM on August 19

My big fear is that this will cut into their other winter sports coverage in a big way. Given that OLN is the only channel in the USA that covers real honest-to-god outdoor winter sports, that would suck hard.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:28 AM on August 20

So, if my local cable carrier doesn't have OLN in their TV hockey?

posted by alumshubby at 06:33 AM on August 20

outside of cable... "NBC, beginning in January 2005, will televise seven regular-season games and six Stanley Cup playoff games in regular Saturday afternoon time slots. In addition, NBC will broadcast Games 3-7 of the Stanley Cup final." which, unfortunately for HNIC watchers, means Stanley Cup games in the middle of the afternoon on weekends. That ain't right.

posted by gspm at 11:32 AM on August 20

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