In sports, the impact and the importance of momentum cannot be over-emphasized. It starts with a timely goal, a crushing hit, an enforcer dropping the gloves. It amps up a team. Shakes the cobwebs out of a sluggish start to a game. Gets the blood boiling, and the energy rolling. Fans can feel the shift in the momentum and depending on which side of the spectrum you are on, it can either be a joyous feeling, or one of dread.
The same can be said for the importance of momentum in relation to broadcasting. A TV show builds a loyal audience. Those fans know to expect that TV show will be broadcast on a certain day at a certain time. They tune in. They check it out. They tell their friends, and the ratings grow. In sports broadcasting, it is the same. The NFL broadcasts all day on Sundays. Monday Night Football is a long standing tradition. In Canada, Hockey Night in Canada, with or without a theme song, still drives ratings like nothing else. Unfortunately, the only broadcaster not subscribing to the momentum theory is the NHL’s largest partner in the United States, NBC.
For a few weeks in a row, a hockey fan south of the 49th parallel could count on Sunday late morning/early afternoon as their opportunity to watch the NHL on national television. Marquee match-ups featuring some of the NHL’s best and brightest were showcased, and to NBC’s credit, the quality of the broadcast was fairly high. The studio show, featuring noted blowhards Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury were entertaining, albeit contrived. You could feel a little bit of momentum growing for the NHL as they enter the stretch-drive of the season.
Unfortunately, this all came crashing to a halt this past Sunday. As I was meandering around my house, doing nothing of any significance, imagine my surprise when I went to tune into the Sunday afternoon matinee to find, much to my chagrin, that the NHL had been bumped in favour of some cockamamie snowboarding or bull fighting or whatever it was. In one simple network broadcasting decision the momentum had been eliminated and the NHL was back to square one.
If the NHL is to ever succeed in the entire United States, it needs a consistent network presence. This hurky-jerky scheduling serves to do nothing other than confuse, irritate, and sour those hockey fans looking to view your product on a consistent date and time. Alas, for those hoping that this might change for the better come playoff and Stanley Cup time, and the NHL will build momentum extraordinaire remember that NBC is going to broadcast games one and two of the cup finals and then go dark until game 5, if necessary. Nomentum (sic), indeed.
The answer to the trivia question I posted on Monday night was John Markell.
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