Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Free NHL!

Flipping through DirecTV the other day I excitedly stumbled upon the NHL Network. Having spent a good portion of my youth in Michigan I enjoy the game and consider myself a fan. But when I tried to click on the channel to watch I was shocked to see that the NHL Network is a premium channel that requires an additional charge.
In case you hadn't noticed (and chances are you haven't) this fall the National Hockey League began its own television network similar to those developed by the NFL and NBA. The network existed in Canada for a few years, but has now made it to U.S. cable and satellite systems. Much like the NFL and NBA networks, the NHL will carry features and some live games. And also like the other networks consumers will have to pay an additional premium to access the channel.
This makes sense for the NFL and NBA which already have established fan bases. But it's complete lunacy for the NHL, which already has made several questionable broadcast decisions. Moving from ESPN to the Versus Network substantially reduced the already microscopic television ratings; now the league is charging an additional fee for content that most people don't care about.
The only way the league is going to grow is by increasing exposure via television and that's not going to happen by charging people extra. The NHL should have learned this lesson when it switched to Versus; instead of reducing its rights fees and staying on ESPN it now broadcasts games on a network no one can find.
Note to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: give the television product away for free, including the NHL Network, and try to drum up some interest. When more than a handful of people start watching, then you can charge money. Maybe I'll even sign up myself.


Blogger Fire said...

Don't worry, Bettman will never do this... they make you pay for the NHL Center Ice package first, and then some games aren't even on that... so you have to pay for the NHL Network too... or get an online subscription. They're making it hard for you to see the games you want to... one of the many reasons the NHL is suffering.

12:47 PM  
Blogger jkrdevil said...

Well first off for Directv the NHL Network is apart of the base Choice Extra package or comes free if you subscribe to the Center Ice package.

That said the NHL took what it could get and that being on a digital sports tier on most cable systems. It's similar to to the NFL Network. If the NFL can't get their channel on basic cable there is no way the NHL is. So basically it was the decision to let it be placed on sports tier with NBA tv ect. or have no one get it at all. Obviously the Sports tier is a better option.

4:17 PM  

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