Thursday, February 18, 2010

Blown Coverage For Better or Worse

The past few days in the States, there has been a huge to-do about the attention, or lack there of, when it comes to hockey coverage. Over at Puck the Media (very stellar job over there, by the way), Steve Lepore talks about how the NBC family of networks are really screwing the hockey fans out of some games' starts because of other events involving USA teams or individuals. It's a noble undertaking in getting attention for the hockey fans out there to get the coverage they need-- but it's getting close to annoyance rather than nobility.

The fact remains this-- the NBC networks were showing events in which American teams or individuals were involved. They had USA-Japan women's curling on MSNBC and USA-Russia women's hockey on CNBC. Because these games went long, the Canada-Norway men's hockey game was delayed being on any channel. While I agree that NBC kind of "dropped the ball," so to speak; the networks are not and should not be risking removing or short-changing the USA team on any sports to show two non-USA participants play a game, host country or not. The interests of NBC Universal is only to the USA Olympics team and should not have to cater to non-USA nations. The same thing happen on Wednesday with the Sweden-Germany game being delayed due to extra-ends in USA-Switzerland men's curling match on CNBC and Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, with the first period being missed almost entirely due to a 22 minute delay.

While NBC has really been dropping the ball in terms of coverage all around, especially with the way Twitter has been buzzing-- people know the result of events before NBC starts to show them; I can give a pass to NBC on this instance. The fact they are showing USA events over non-USA hockey events is admirable and shouldn't be as chastised as it has been. Like I said, the NBC Universal interest is not going to be to hockey fans (as their Sunday "Game of the Week" has shown for a few years now) if the USA team is not in the game. If there is going to come a day where Team USA hockey is being delayed for one game or another, then that's when the outrage should come fast and furious and then NBC can be truly vilified and ridiculed.

When hockey is seen most of the time on the network, the odds are that NBC Universal will show the sports not often seen on TV. Figure skating is a big pull, skiing and speed-skating will get cult followings, much like curling has gotten over the past games-- they will have the niche and appeal, especially if they are seen once every four years. Hockey is shown weekly and while it sucks that hockey fans won't see every minute of every game, you have to pick your battles and fights when it comes to supporting your game.

If you are upset by the NBC Universal snub of all the games, check out Buddy Oakes' Preds on the Glass and his post about how you can get into contact with NBC Universal about their coverage or lack thereof.


On another side, there's a decent story from ESPN's Scott Burnside about Alex Ovechkin being pretty much missing and put away by the Russian Federation in terms of interviews or putting his face out there. His piece states that Ovechkin, and much of the other Russian team, has been only giving interviews to the Russian media over the mass media that's there at the Olympics. Burnside says something to the effect of Ovechkin blowing off the media.

When something come out about one of the bigger personalities in the NHL, you have to wonder how much of this is the athlete's doing and how much is this the Federation. While, I get the Federation's concern, as it is the world's stage and there's only so many times you can go ahead and answer the same questions about the atmosphere and trying to face Sidney Crosby in a showdown later on in the Games. That seems to have been the focal point, at least in the Canadian media, when it comes to the Games; especially when both teams are the favorites, but as an athlete-- that can be a redundant to answer the same question that may or may not happen when the time comes.

On the flip side, what does the the Russian Federation hope to achieve by making Ovechkin scarce during the Games, especially when they know that guys like Ovechkin, Malkin, and Kovalchuk are the high-energy guys-- Ovechkin being the top guy. It's very Soviet-esque for the Federation to basically shutting down the personalities of the guys who are out there. This seems to be odd, considering that there were reports about Alex Semin commandeering a golf-cart and joyriding around the Olympic village and Semyon Varlamov talking about the food in the Olympic Village and having to go to McDonald's. Maybe it was that freedom that the Russians didn't like, thinking it'd become a distraction; thus shutting them down to everything and having them only focus on the games. It's a detriment to the players, the Federation, and the press for the top guys to be shut off like that. Especially when these games are suppose to display the personalities of athlete's many may not see all the time, the Russians seem to be shutting it down.


There have been many mistake in coverage and availability in these Games and if nothing else, this could be the Olympics with the most CFs in recent memory. Of course, there's a chance where there's too much demand for one thing or another for networks, audiences, and countries to keep up with it. Of course, they should have known something like this would happen and should have been prepared. Odds are that even if they were prepared, someone would find something and then bring that up and blown it out of proportion.

Like the Girl said to me when I had the idea to write this-- you're not going to please everyone and someone will always get mad in one way or another.


Murray said...

Perhaps the Russians are limiting access out of some sort of spite for the NHL not wanting to let the players in the Sochi Olympics. Or maybe it's just practice for those Olympics and they won't let any foreign media into the country for it.

Jennifer Hammer said...

"the Sweden-Germany game being delayed due to extra-ends in USA-Switzerland men's curling match on CNBC and Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, with the first period being missed almost entirely due to a 22 minute delay."

I get your point, but Keith Olbermann while *any* Olympic event is going on is not a good choice, IMO. But then again, people would be pissed that Olbermann was bumped for hockey (or some other sport).