Saturday, February 15, 2014

NBC BLEW IT WITH USA-RUSSIA GAME



I don't watch many sporting events on television anymore, but I was intrigued by the
Olympic hockey game between the United States and Russia on Saturday. I knew the game
was being played at 7:30 a.m EST and after I awoke five minutes past that, I hurried over
to the television to turn the game on.

It's USA vs Russia in the Olympics, so of course, it was going to be on NBC and all its
local affiliates, right? Wrong. When I saw Lester Holt and Meredith Viera on the weekend
"Today" show eating something at some market in Sochi, I said to myself, "You're kidding me, right?" NBC pays billions of dollars for the Olympics and they have a hockey game between
the US and Russia and they put it on one of their eight other channels that you can't find in the universe of 500 networks.

This wasn't a curling game between the United States and Slovakia. It wasn't ski-slope or
slope skiing or whatever X-games event they have masquerading as an Olympic sport. Hockey
is a real sport and if enough people could follow the puck or figure out what the hell is going
on, the NHL would bypass the NBA and MLB in popularity. Sorry, the NFL is untouchable.

I get what executives at the Peacock Network were trying to do. They started the NBC Sports
Network a few years ago and after nobody watched it, they changed the name to NBCSN.
Yeah! That'll do it! Give it a bunch of letters and viewers will come in droves! Woo-hoo!.
Yep, unfortunately, that's how a lot of television executives think.



They whiffed on that one and they struck out on the decision to put the US-Russia game
on  NBCSN, like BJ Upton, Justin Upton, and Dan Uggla hit nothing but air 387 times for
the Atlanta Braves last summer.

Why would they put a marquee game on a network that nobody can even find? Haven't
they learned anything from the NFL and MLB Network? Both are top-notch products
but people can't find it. It's up there in the channels with 1 and 4 at that beginning. 300
and change if you have DirecTV or whatever people get these days.

I understand the NBC suits felt that they'd get traffic to go to NBCSN if they put a game
like that on its air. They wanted people to discover what a great job the sister network of
the mother ship does with hockey and other sports, like bull riding.



It never works.  Millions of people went to Oprah's network to see the Lance Armstrong
interview and they haven't gone back since. Do you even know where the Oprah network
is on your cable box? Oh, you didn't make it a staple of your viewing habits after that weasel Armstrong lied about his lies again?

As I said before, this wasn't a curling match or some athletes shooting guns at targets
while lying in the snow. This was the United States and Russia in hockey on Putin's
home soil. Come, on! Anybody with an ounce of common sense knows this had the
potential for great theatre. I mean, Ivan Drago could've come out and said, "I will
break you."

It wasn't the 'Miracle on Ice', but the game turned out to be one of the best in Olympic
hockey history. An eight-round shootout? Are you kidding me?  But how many people
saw it? Oh, yes, a lot did, but not as many that could've seen it. Sure, NBC will put it
on its prime-time coverage, but in this Twitter, Facebook, instantaneous world, it will have
lost some of its fizz by then.

I guess we'll just have to settle for another round of curling or snowboarding because
those are the real sports. Give me a break.

I don't believe in second 'Miracles' but I do believe that's it's best to put a great game
on a channel everybody can find.

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