Chicago, IL — As a hockey fan I have to say I’m thrilled with the new NBC Sports network channel that will be giving ESPN a little competition. Ever since the parting of the ways between the NHL and ESPN it has been glaringly obvious that ESPN not only does not forgive and forget but that they down right hold grudges.
You never see ESPN show or talk hockey they will cover almost any other sport including fishing and curling before they ever want to talk hockey or put up an NHL highlight. Ok I’m being a little factitious but only slightly. Now ESPN states they are the “leaders in sports” which of course is self proclaimed. How can you be a leader in sports when you are not even professional enough to get past your differences with one of the four major sports leagues?
NBC launched their new 24 hr sports channel which hopes to rival ESPN and maybe even one up them. Don’t laugh NBC is smart enough to know that by making NHL hockey it’s featured sport this will attract a large youth and female audience. Hockey is very popular among women and children many who play themselves. Hockey fans are also very loyal and while their numbers are small they are growing. Hockey is growing in popularity every year so it was a smart decision for NBC to align itself with the NHL and for the NHL to align with NBC.
This new 24 NBC sports channel will take over what was formally known as Versus and will launch itself after one of the NHL’s premier showcase events The Winter Classic featuring the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers which should capture the big markets and hockey markets. I for one think NBC already has the best sports annalists and announcers in the business.
Outside of hockey NBC has Sunday Night Football which features the best announcing football tandem in Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth with Bob Costas doing special stories and with NBC able to flex to the best games it makes Sunday Night football special.
As for hockey coverage of the national games are done by the best in Doc Emrick and Eddie Olczyk with color commentary by Jeremy Roenick and Mike Milbury. JR is always entertaining as is Doc Emrick and there is no question Edzo knows his hockey and can help novices learn the game. “For all those young hockey players out there ” sorry I had to add an Edzoism.
The network will also be featuring a multiyear pact with Major League Soccer. The other football game that is bigger world wide than the NFL. NBC will be airing Notre Dame football action, college football, basketball and hockey, as well as horseracing fare around the sport’s Triple Crown. Who knows we are due for another Secretariat and NBC would be thrilled to be the ones to capture that event to be sure.
It will be interesting to see if the new NBC sports channel can give ESPN a run for it’s arrogant money. I for one am glad that the monopoly will be challenged and hockey finally has a home where it will not have to take a backseat to anyone and will be appreciated. Let’s just hope the NHL does not suffer what the NFL and NBA recently did with CBA problems. Barring that the NHL is positioned itself to showoff their stars, showcase the leagues best rivalries and educate us all about this great game.
NBC also is launching itself at the right time with rights to the 2012 Summer London Olympics as a great way to showcase their new network and their coverage. The timing could not be better for a networks coming out party. The channel also is featuring a documentary series I’m sure all hockey fans will love Cold War on Ice: Summit Series ’72 which documents the eight game series between team Canada and the former Soviet Union national team.
Anyone who loves hockey and was not around during that time must tune in. You will see the difference in NHL hockey and European hockey at that time. It will give you a great picture of what the games was about back then and how playing hockey for your country gives new meaning to the word rivalry. You think Flyers/Rangers is a heated battle well it’s nothing compared to the NHL/Soviet rivalry. Must see for sure.
I’m also delighted to see that the Winter Classic is being shown on NBC’s regular channel and not their cable channel. I know it is hard to believe but not everyone has cable but most do have regular television broadcasts. I’m also thrilled that the NHL Stanley Cup will be on their regular channel. If the finalists happen to be in large hockey markets like New York, Chicago or a Canadian team it will be even better.
I’m hoping that the new NBC Sports network covers sports thoroughly, insightfully, humorously and passionately because all sports fans deserve this. Something ESPN has seemed to forgotten with it’s biases. Who knows in a year maybe it will be the NBC sports channel on in every bar and restaurant in the America. Here is to a new year and a new network that just could change how we watch sports and sports coverage and in the process increase the popularity of NHL hockey.