Local TV Affiliates and Caps Coverage
UPDATED: The Tim Brant quote below was, unintentionally, taken out of context. Brant was saying he's never believed preseason results predict anything about regular season outcomes, and was not talking about media coverage in any way. I apologize for the error; it was entirely my fault.
Devoted readers of Caps PR honcho Nate Ewell's Twitter feed (and aren't we all?) will have noticed his gentle tweaking of the four local TV networks throughout the preseason.
Sept. 13: We had at least 30 media here yesterday as players reported -- but zero from network TV affiliates.
Sept. 17: Network TV affil. visits to training camp: WUSA 1 (on Tues, 'Skins off day); WRC, WTTG, WJLA tied at 0.
Sept. 22: WTTG Fox 5 races to the lead in Caps camp appearances by network affils. WTTG-2, WUSA-1, WRC and WJLA-0.
Sept. 28: Caps made final cuts today and WJLA-7 and WRC-4 made it thru an entire preseason w/o covering one practice.
Now, I'm sure not here to criticize the affiliates
networks, and they didn't seem to take offense. ("Do I think that's it's fair that he's doing that? Yeah, absolutely," WUSA's Brett Haber said.) My own preseason appearances were extremely sporadic, and I posted 19 consecutive Redskins blog items at one point. Plus, we're all going through the same rocky economic times, and they're operating with limited staffs, during the first month of the Redskins' regular season. Plus, one appearance doesn't necessarily equate to just one story, and the affiliates can use footage provided by the Caps even when they're not there.
Dave Feldman's WTTG ended up winning the contest with three preseason practice appearances (WUSA had 2), so I'll let Feldman speak for the gang here.
"We didn't go to it a ton, because we never really cover hockey training camp a lot," he said. "It coincided with the beginning of the Redskins' season, and sadly in today's economic times, we just don't have all the resources to cover everything. But we did go to the home games, we did cover their training camp three or four times, I went to their media fantasy camp and made a fool out of myself. We'd like to do it much more, we just can't always get a camera. It's not that the Caps are second to the Redskins, but a [hockey] preseason doesn't match up with a Redskins regular season."
All that said, I figured the mania from last spring would carry over to this fall in every local sports medium, and I'm not really sure that it has. (Ahem, sports talk radio.) (Although the AP just declared that "the Washington Capitals are the it team in the nation's capital.")
So it seemed worthwhile to ask some of the network stars what they expected from this year's Caps coverage. Ted Leonsis has already noted in his blog that this year's Post preview section was an extravaganza of information (my words), and the network stars said they'd be equally aggressive.
"Without a doubt, without a doubt," said WJLA's Tim Brant. "Part of it is this town is becoming more and more a hockey town, as we've seen through the playoffs. They're talking about every game being sold out....And then you add to that the situation that surrounds them in Washington sports right now. Maryland's not doing anything. You look at what the Wizards did last year, they fired Eddie Jordan and won 19 of their 82. You look at the Nationals, 103 losses. The Redskins are struggling, everybody's down on the Redskins; I haven't seen anything like that with the Redskins in my lifetime. So yeah, [the Caps] are top dog right now."
(As for WJLA's training camp coverage, "I've never been a training camp guy," Brant said, adding that he feels that way for every sport.)
"Equal or more," Feldman said, when I asked him to compare this year's Caps coverage to last year's. "I thought we gave it a lot last year. I mean, it's a big story, and they're the only proven winner right now. So yeah, probably more, just because I think they're even gonna be better."
"It's like anything, it's a function of how well they do," Haber agreed. "We started out covering the Nats pretty aggressively this year--I saw you at Spring Training--and we were all over it. As the team began to [slide], our coverage diminished. But I think if you work under the assumption that they're going to be a contender out of the gate, I think yeah, we'll be on them from the beginning."
And if you're not, @nateewell will let the world know about it.
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