Here’s a couple of weekend links to share for the weekend and one quick news note.
NHL ON VERSUS IS RAPIDLY DISAPPEARING
Sports Video Group has an interesting article up about the changes at Versus as they meld NBC into their hockey broadcasts. The story features quotes from director Jeff Simon. From the article –
“We’ve fully integrated the entire operation in terms of production, engineering, support,” says Jeff Simon, director of NHL on NBC. “It’s really considered just one organization that is on two different platforms. The rebranding of Versus is still down the line, but, if you’ve seen any of our early games, our graphic look is almost entirely NHL on NBC, and I think the things that we have done in the past on NBC in terms of the production and the style of the coverage is the same way on Versus.”
Under the hood, little is different in the production of the NHL on Versus, according to Simon. It’s mostly the same people, same equipment, and same studios that made the network’s hockey coverage a year ago. The biggest change, however, is the programming schedule, which offers about 100 NHL games, doubling the total that NBC Sports Group produced a season ago.
“We signed a 10-year deal with the NHL, which has cemented this relationship as a partnership, and now the games on Versus are nearly double,” says Simon. “When you put the platforms together and you throw in all of the Comcast regional sports networks, hockey is such a big staple of the company now.”
The article goes on to talk about how Versus is sharing resources with Comcast SportsNet and other regional providers when possible.
SBD INTERVIEW WITH JOHN COLLINS
NHL COO John Collins isn’t always a popular person even if the league has shown some gains since he arrived on the hockey scene. Sports Business Daily interviewed Collins for their In The Studio segment earlier this week. While there is a full video interview on the link, SBD also has a text synopsis of it. Here’s a few of the highlights from that synopsis –
Q: State of the NHL’s business?
Collins: Big new TV agreements, new European deals, “we’re locked and loaded.”
Q: Offseason highlight was new TV deal with NBC.
Collins: NBC’s selling Olympics, “SNF,” Super Bowl alongside NHL.
Q: Working closer with NBC on sales means …
Collins: NHL goes to “market with a lot more leverage.”
Q: Why do sports rights fees continue to increase?
Collins: Nothing else is live. “Sports is beginning to get fair value.”
Q: So sports has been undervalued?
Collins: Yes. Unlike scripted programming, you “know what you’re getting.”
Q: TV Everywhere?
Collins: How someone watches shouldn’t matter; “rights deals have to catch up.”
Q: How do you define NHL brand to potential partners?
Collins: Great fan base in U.S., but in Canada “a unifying force.”
Q: What did HBO’s “24/7” do for brand?
Collins: “Hockey culture has been so closed … team-oriented.” Series looked inside.
Q: What’s next for Winter Classic-style big-event strategy?
Collins: “The biggest opportunity really is the Stanley Cup playoffs.”
Q: So getting more eyeballs, attention, ad support?
Collins: “I think it could be treated almost like a March Madness.”
Q: Sports business stories you’re watching.
Collins: NBA labor, and what the NFL does next.
Q: NBC Sports Network: How do they build a 24/7 brand?
Collins: “I think they’re going to look at properties” over news/info.
Q: Telling stories around the properties they already have to start?
Collins: “That’s what they’ve done so well with the Olympics” and others.
NO HNIC PUNJABI THIS SEASON
And finally, The Toronto Star confirms that CBC has pulled the plug on Punjabi language telecasts of Hockey Night in Canada. The telecasts debuted in 2008, only to be pulled off for awhile last season due to a lack of sponsorship. The broadcasts were brought back due to viewer demand. But in the end, CBC couldn’t get enough corporate support to continue the Punjanbi telecasts this season.