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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Wait 'Til They Find Out That Bass Fishing Is More Popular

The NHL has a new TV contract.

It's not with ESPN. No surprise there.

It's with Comcast. Click here to read all about it.

Given all of the free-agent signings and wheeling and dealing that went on, you would have thought that Home Shopping Network would have been a good match for the NHL. Given how badly the NHL has done on TV over the past several years, and given that they've probably lost some fans because they didn't have a season last year, the NHL is probably lucky to have a TV contract at all, even if it's worthy of a punchline on The Comedy Channel (and not even a time slot on that network). The new network is called OLN, Comcast's foray into the world of sports.

All kidding aside, the NHL probably didn't have much from which to choose. The Comcast folks are savvy business people, having built up this huge media company from a lonesome cable TV franchise in Tupelo, Mississippi that they owned about 40 years ago. While media and tech-related business are on the growth end of the investment spectrum generally (as opposed to value), the guess here is that Comcast made a value play here. Get the NHL at a reasonable price, promote it smartly and then hope to the high heavens that this season is one to remember. Will the players come back refreshed, and will traditional powers return to glory, or will the product be mediocre owing to rust and serious changes to many teams' rosters?

In the linked article, one media observer comments that Comcast's new network becomes a more serious player (and not a niche one) because it has acquired rights to NHL games. That's an interesting observation, but I'm not there yet. I can't agree because until the NHL accumulates some serious ratings, the new Comcast network, OLN, cannot be considered to be a serious player in the sports world. Once considered one of the "top four" sports in America, professional hockey has fallen pretty far. Certain below football, baseball and basketball, but also below college football, college basketball, NASCAR, golf and a few others. That doesn't make the NHL unimportant, hardly. But it doesn't make it the eye catcher it once might have been.

They say that one man's junk is another man's joy, and it will be interesting whether George Bodenheimer or Brian Roberts is proved right by each's decision as to the appeal of the NHL. Did George Bodenheimer cut his losses, or did Brian Roberts find a gem at a yard sale?

Time will tell.


Blogger ken said...

I had not heard that OLN hooked up with the NHL. I agree that this contract does not make OLN a major player. But I think it's interesting given that OLN was the network that covered the Tour de France which means they must have been in a panic after Armstrong retired. While OLN may be savvy, I think in the post-Armstrong era they needed the NHL almost as much as the NHL needed a network. And who knows, maybe they will become a major player. Though I can't see the same audience that tuned in for the Tour seeking out a professional hockey game on a regular basis.

1:58 PM  
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2:40 PM  
Blogger callmemickey said...

The yellow spandex wearing weekend warriors that sought out the OLN for the tour coverage may bot be looking for the NHL, but you can count on the die hard hockey fans (Aren't all remaining hockey fans die hard though in this age of attrition?) tuning in to a channel they never watched previously.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree,

I love Hockey. and recently I have bought stock in it. Not like real stock on Wall street, but a stock market that is strictly for sports.

You have seen it? Its pretty cool. You buy issues for your favorite teams and you make real money. Not like a fake stock simulator. I cash out Dividends each time the team wins. Also I can sell my team stock when the price goes up.

check it out if something like this interests you.
heres a link
you can log in and check it out for free..

They just released IPO'S for Hockey this week, so there are alot of good deals there.

Keep up the good work on your blog!

3:46 PM  

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