Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, May 22, 2021

neigh
American hockey fans are fuming over NBC’s decision to end its broadcast of Saturday’s Sabres-Senators game with overtime to go, opting to start its scheduled Preakness horseracing coverage instead. The NHL playoff game turned out to be the clinching game for Eastern Conference champ Ottawa.

Naturally, comparisons with the 1968 Heidi game of NFL (actually AFL) lore are made. Although those comparisons are probably coming from opposing momentums: The Heidi game — more accurately, the forceful reaction it got — represented pro football’s eventual ascendancy to coveted television draw; the (let’s call it) Horsie game, on the other hand, seems to underline the decline for the National Hockey League as a major television sport, with the nadir perhaps yet to come.

I’ll add to the cacophony of online noise over this with a couple of thoughts:

- Since I don’t live in Buffalo or Rochester (Sabres affiliate territory), I was one of those peeved hockey viewers. I think NBC flubbed big on two counts: By mentioning the coverage switch to Versus only once, audio only, in the hurried way it cut off coverage from the game; and again when, through the early part of the Preakness coverage, not running an onscreen scroll or other indicator directing viewers to Versus for the remainder of the NHL game. I myself missed the one-and-only announcement of the channel change, and it was only by luck that I instinctively turned to Versus to discover the hand-off. No question, a shoddy way of handling the situation.

- As far as the properness of NBC cutting off coverage in the first place: The financial commitments are pretty well-known regarding the network’s NHL contract. What’s not as apparent is the Preakness package. Simply put, the race coverage is a couple of hours of infomercial-like segments, featuring a slew of on-camera interviews with sponsor representatives, topped off by the new minutes of the horses running. That’s committed advertiser money, in what’s basically product-placement buys. It may not have been fair of NBC to yield to that financial pressure, but with its overall ratings picture so dismal, it would have been a tough pill to swallow to have to give back chunks of that money in favor of continuing coverage of a low-revenue hockey game.

- It should be noted that this game was originally scheduled as a night game (7 or 8PM). It was moved to the 2PM start specifically at NBC’s request. That makes the pullout more galling. It also makes me wonder why it couldn’t have been scheduled earlier in the afternoon, at noon or 1PM, which would have avoided the whole conflict.

- The popular conspiracy theory suggests that this was a blunt way for the TV guys to tell the league that it needs to ditch OT for the playoffs, and adopt the time-compacted shootout. That doesn’t really make sense in this case, since even a regular-season style short OT and shootout combo still would have encroached upon the Preakness timeslot. I wouldn’t count on seeing a change in playoff overtime format — yet.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/22/2007 11:51:03 PM
Category: Hockey, Other Sports, TV
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Being all too familiar with Gulf Coast weather patterns, I’m not surprised to learn that Mobile, Alabama tops the list of the Ten Wettest U.S. Cities, measured by average annual rainfall over the past 30 years. (I am surprised that the Tampa Bay area, where I used to live, didn’t make the list; on the other hand, plenty of other Florida metros are in there.)

Mobile’s showing of 67 inches of rain and 59 rainy days annually reminds me of a brief comedic episode I witnessed in the southern Alabama city many moons ago:

I was at the family home of my college roommate Flipper. His mom was there, ragging on him for some of the goofy things he had done as a kid. One of those things somehow involved going to a local fortuneteller and then spending a day at a cemetery, based on the prediction they received (I don’t recall the details now).

Flipper got a little defensive, and offered up, “But she wasn’t totally full of it! She did predict that it was going to rain that day, and it really did rain later that day!”

Flipper’s mom started cackling, and said, “Some prediction! You know it rains every day in Mobile!”

Which is/was an exaggeration, based on the scientific data. But I guess it’s close enough to the mark for a scam fortuneteller to convince some kid of her predictive powers.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/22/2007 10:51:03 PM
Category: Weather
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