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The Caps on the Preakness

I was at the Preakness Saturday, so I didn't suffer the hockey fan's indignity of seeing an overtime game in the Eastern Conference finals be preempted in favor of a horse-racing pre-game show. Hockey bloggers will be able to make their living off this for several years. From Off Wing Opinion:

Just another reminder that hockey, even playoff hockey, just doesn't move the meter much South of the border. Something tells me this isn't the last indignity the league will be suffering over the next few years.

From James Mirtle:

This kind of coverage isn't serving anyone. It shafts the players, the teams, viewers in both the U.S. and Canada, the league itself and even the owners, who gain little in revenue and a lot in negative media coverage from such a shoddy partnership. Flush it down.

From Hockey Hearsay:

That the preamble to a horse race, albeit a major one, is more important to the average American than a sudden-death period of a conference final elimination game is a sad statement to a commissioner who is still clinging to hope that the game can be grown in the U.S.

Personally, I wondered whether the Caps and their execs were live-suffering the same indignity as the typical hockey fan. Many were.

From George McPhee: "It sure doesn't make any sense to those of us who love hockey, and probably no sense to the average sports fan either. That shouldn't have happened."

[Although actually, McPhee was en route to Hershey and was TiVo'ing the game. He said it allows him to watch an average game in about an hour.]

From Olie Kolzig: "Could you imagine if they did that in the NFL or a baseball game? It would never happen. That's obviously the big hurdle that the NHL has to overcome in the U.S. market, is TV. I was frustrated. As soon as they said that I was like, 'Aw, c'mon'."

As for the first question, the "could you imagine" one, Ted Leonsis could imagine it.

"Heidi game," he said he immediately thought. "I went into the time tunnel."

Of course, in this case, the game didn't disappear completely, it just moved to Versus. As has been much reported in recent days, Versus is in about 38 million fewer homes than NBA. And, in fact, not everyone could find Versus, or at least, not everyone knew to look. Brian Pothier, for example. The Caps defenseman said he never heard the announcement that the game was switching to Versus, and so he missed the ending even though he gets Versus.

"I watched the Preakness for a bit, [then] I just bailed, I had some stuff to do around the house so I took off," he told me. "Obviously I wanted to finish watching the game in overtime, the best part, but what are you going to do?"

Leonsis is less resigned. He has a meeting in New York with the NHL's digital media folks this week, and the preempting will be among the issues discussed.

"The league already gets it, I just want to speed up the agenda," he told me today. "I do understand the [NBC] decision. But it also shows what I've been advocating. Why be the number four sport on television, or the number five sport? Let's innovate and drive our agenda on the broadband internet. We have the most wired community. With broadband and video, I should have been able to watch that game live when they left instead of trying to find Versus."

I asked whether he had expressed that opinion to the league offices.

"Very strongly," he said.

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 21, 2007; 3:46 PM ET
Categories:  Weirdness  
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It was even worse he in B-More. The Game was never on NBC and I didn't know it got switched to Versus in the 3rd or overtime or whenever the hell it got switched. I was stuck watching the MFY and the Mets.

Posted by: Eric(Baltimore) | May 21, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Actually, if you were among group huddled around the one TV in the Pimlico grandstand tuned to NBC, you could have suffered the indignity, too. Other than the tremendous irony of being at where they were cutting away to go and hating them for that, the real pain was in looking up to the tote board (the adjacent TV, for that matter) to see that it wasn't even post of the race before the Preakness - meaning the big race was practically a lifetime away.

Posted by: jp-dc | May 21, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

To Ted -- You think Bettman understands broadband, or anything to do with the internet? MLB is far ahead of all sports in terms of broadcasting video on the internet.

I was at Rumors with a bunch of friends for the purpose of watching the Preakness and throwing some cold ones down with the boys.

We were watching the game, then all of the sudden it went away, we where like where the heck did the game go? Had we known it was on Versus we could have changed the channel, but NBC did not even say one word about Versus picking up the feed. That for me is what rubbed salt into the wound.

We're all sports fans hell yes we wanted to watch the OT, the Preakness was an hour and a half away.

Bettman must Go!!!

Posted by: kthhken | May 21, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Ha! The biggest television travesty this past weekend was the Chivas USA - LA Galaxy game, which was 2 minutes into 3 minutes of overtime, was cut off of the national feed by Telefutura at 657pm for 3 minutes of commercials leading up to Objectivo Fama. Travesty! The hockey game could have been going on for hours after the Preakness. NBC could have went back to it. But Telefutura, in all their wisdom, felt that commercials outweighed competitive sports.

And it's not like the league didn't have a choice. MLS could choose to unblock the local feeds of the game (where this didn't happen) and allow DirectKick subscribers access to that feed. But noooooooooo!



Posted by: JayRockers! | May 22, 2007 2:50 AM | Report abuse

Redskins suck dick.

Posted by: Aaron Church from Alexandria | May 22, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Davis Stern is Satan

Posted by: Deepak | May 22, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

David Stern is Satan

Posted by: Deepak | May 22, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

David Stern is Satan

Posted by: Deepak | May 22, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

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