This blog celebrates its three month birthday today, so thanks for reading and making it grow so quickly. At its launch, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to write about. Even now, I still experiment with posts. I have found that the business of hockey posts draw very few hits while opinion and media news pieces bring in the most. At the beginning, I had no idea how I was going to draw people here. I got lucky with some breaking news. First, this site was one of the first to announce Jeff Marek’s departure from CBC. That drew a good amount of hits and was a good start. But then something bigger came along. It’s something that still draws a good amount of hits, tweets and e-mails. It was a little story about the NHL selling its international broadcasting rights. Believe it or not, that post is the most popular in this site’s short history. But what’s really sad is that the NHL’s international TV future is just as unknown today as it was three months ago.
We are nearly a week away from the start of the 2011-12 season yet NHL fans across Europe have no idea where to find games. All they hear are rumors, hearsay, and cut and paste e-mails. It’s a massive failure by the NHL and its new rights holders, AMI/Medge. All the parties have been secretive about what’s going on and even today, some fans are still not aware of the potential of a blackout across Europe. Fans have started to rally, desperate for information. They tweet, send e-mails to the NHL and have even started a Facebook group. Even with all that, nobody is talking. It’s a terrible way to treat your loyal fans and they deserve better. So, let’s spread the blame and try to get to the bottom of this.
- The NHL has continued to fail at all levels when it comes to telling their international fans about what’s going on. The NHL’s own website never mentioned that ESPN had lost the rights. They’ve often ignored inquiries by fans about where to find games. Only now have they started to state that fans will get access to NHL Gamecenter Live. That’s good news but they fail to tell anyone any official details about it. Nothing about cost, features, when you can sign up, etc. Nothing. How hard is it to get that information out there? There does not seem to be a website or anything official so fans can only hope and wait or just give up and get a VPN or go the illegal route. Either way, it’s driving fans wild and the league needs to do a better job in communications. It appears that the league has its head in the sand about all this and either doesn’t realize how many fans are mad about this or just doesn’t care.
- AMI/Medge appears to be a very cryptic pairing. AMI doesn’t have a working website and it’s very hard to find any information about it. Medge has a sparse website but it doesn’t tell much about them and it’s pretty much useless if you’re looking for information about the future of NHL games. There aren’t any social media accounts for these companies. Fans are obviously frustrated by this since they don’t know where to turn for information. I’m sure that AMI/Medge is working hard and negotiating but their lack of social media savvy is hurting them. They need to come out publicly and state things and have more interaction with the fans. Right now fans don’t trust them but a little communication would change that by leaps and bounds.
- The media has done a poor job on reporting this. My little blog is one of the few places to find any information about this which is why it draws so many hits about this. Fans have tried to tweet and e-mail major mainstream hockey journalists and personalities but their queries are usually ignored. Now, I understand there’s little reason for a Canadian writer to try to figure this out but I’m surprised that nobody has done any reporting on this. Hockey has a loyal fan base in Europe and with so many European players in the league and the NHL Premiere games around the corner, you’d think someone somewhere would find this to be a big deal but apparently not. Outside of a Swedish newspaper, it doesn’t seem like anyone has done any serious reporting about this and that’s a shame.
The point of this story is simple – to perhaps get a response and raise awareness. Perhaps someone at the NHL will finally confirm the status of NHL Gamecenter. I don’t think most fans even know about this, especially those in North America. If all fans rally and urge the league and its partners to open up, then we all win. Fans deserve better treatment since there’s no league without them. Let’s hope all the parties involve realize that.