VERSUS has released its NHL TV schedule for 2007-08. The press release can be found here. (Yes, I do regularly visit the VERSUS Web site. Why?)
There are some some no-brainer items, such as the fact that highly marketable teams like the Rangers, Penguins, Flyers and Red Wings will appear more often than, say, the Blues or Coyotes. But there are two nuggets: Bill Clement is out as studio host, replaced in a huge talent coup by
Dan Bill Patrick. Oh. I guess that’s not such a huge coup.
Additionally, several of the games on VERSUS’ schedule are once again “Exclusive Games of the Week.” This means that these games are the only game that will air on TV anywhere in the U.S. during that time. In what I charitably call a “counterintuitive” marketing strategy, the NHL is actively preventing their U.S. fans from watching their favorite teams on some nights. Or any hockey at all for that matter, unless they happen to be one of the 1,257 people who actually receive VERSUS and can find it on their cable lineup.
Not from New York? Well, fuck you on November 6, when Rangers VERSUS Islanders is the Exclusive Game of the Week. Although the Leafs-Sens game will be available in Canada, the Caps-Thrashers cannot be seen anywhere–even if you pay for a subscription to NHL Center Ice. (This particular omission is especially outrageous, as the Caps have what MYFO believes is the best owner in professional sports today).
The screwing is even worse on October 23, where if you aren’t into Rangers-Penguins, I guess it’s spend-time-with-the-family night (known to our single readers as either “do-what-girl/boyfriend-wants-to-do-for-a-change night” or “porn night” depending on your state of attachment). At least until the kids go to bed, and then you can catch the two West Coast games on Center Ice (or TSN, for you lucky Canadians. With all that hockey available, how do you people procreate? Are all Canadian babies conceived during the second intermission?).
Directly from the horse’s…er…mouth, VERSUS Senior VP Mark Fein:
“With our superior production quality, all games produced and available in hi def, along with first-rate announce teams and the addition of veteran sports broadcaster
DanBill Patrick as the host of ‘Hockey Central,’ VERSUS’ coverage this season will be the best viewers have ever seen.”
I believe that speaks for itself.
As a hockey fan, I hope the extra nickels that VERSUS threw the NHL’s way to got those “exclsuive” rights are worth it in the long run. But I doubt it. Memo to NHL: More TV exposure = good. “Exclusive” time slots on networks no one can see = bad.