(the Sens’ Daniel Alfredsson. If you’re an American, you might not be aware he did something special the other day)
NBC pulled it’s coverage of Saturday’s Senators/Sabres Game 5 when the game reached OT, flipping to the Preakness Stakes. Though this Stanley Cup playoff was made available via Versus (ie. a channel no one has), the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick correctly surmises, “the balance of the semi-final may as well have been played on a pond outside of Plattsburgh.” Gorrila Crouch’s Dave May expounds on the matter :
The NHL has to reach some type of agreement with NBC to avoid things like this happening as it only serves to remind both the casual sports fan and the hardcore NHL fan of how irrelevant NHL hockey is to major media companies. That™s not how you go about trying to grow the sport and make it more popular. Remember when ESPN was carrying the games and couldn™t say often enough how re-runs of the Cosby show had more viewers than NHL games? The NHL has to do a better job promoting the game and having the deciding game of the Eastern Conference finals dropped doesn™t help one bit.
NBC isn™t a non-profit and they don™t work for the NHL™s P.R. department. So it™s not their job to continue to run an NHL broadcast beyond its time slot while pre-empting a horse race that will likely draw more viewers and bring in more advertising revenue (I™m guessing those ads were probably not geared towards NHL fans given the different demographics between the two sports).
But the NHL has to also make sure that NBC understands that there is a real chance a game could go into overtime. While cutting away from the game during the regular season is understandable, that just isn™t something that the NHL can agree to during the playoffs. If NBC can™t guarantee that they will show a playoff game to its conclusion then it is probably in everyone™s best interest that the game be shown in its entirety on Versus.