Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, May 26, 2021

where's the crew?
While the following isn’t intended to be a piling-on to last week’s “Horsie Game” brouhaha, it’s probably inspired by it:

Well over a year ago, when Al Michaels jumped ship from ABC to NBC to continue calling primetime National Football League action, I envisioned additional job duties for the broadcaster:

Of course, the Peacock Network also broadcasts NHL games for the next couple of years. Dare I hope that Michaels will work a few hockey games, along with the NFL gig? He should have plenty of time, since the departure from ABC means he’s also giving up NBA announcing. It should be an even workload swap for Mr. “Miracle On Ice”.

And yet, to date, Michaels hasn’t gone near a National Hockey League rink on NBC’s behalf (as far as I know).

In fact, the network hasn’t deployed any of its NBC Sports on-air personalities to NHL coverage. It uses largely the same hockey crew that Versus uses, with a couple of additions (Brett Hull being the notable figure). It seems to be a pretty segregated set-up, and further puts across the feeling that the NHL is strictly a rental property in NBC’s programming stable.

No complaints from me about Bill Clement and company and their on-air work. But you’d think NBC would want to leverage names/faces like Michaels and Bob Costas (and even John Madden, if only for general sportsworthiness) to push the NHL package. Broadcast personalities by themselves aren’t going to ramp up the ratings for any sport, but they’ll draw in a few extra eyeballs, and expose viewers who otherwise don’t take notice of the NHL. And there’s plenty of promotional value in highlighting Michaels’ “do you believe in miracles” background.

Why the lack of crossover? You’d have to conclude that the present low ratings indicate there’d be a low return on investment if NBC “spent” hockey airtime on its big-time sports personalities. That is, the contracts for Michaels and Costas likely spell out what they will and won’t do, and NHL games aren’t on the list — they’d have to be convinced (i.e., paid more) to take on the additional assignment. NBC’s probably not pushing them to do the NHL games, and the talents probably aren’t asking to get the extra work.

It’s a shame. Michaels and Madden aren’t doing anything else in the football offseason, and Costas can certainly squeeze in a pregame show or two during the Stanley Cup Finals. Instead, relative obscurity.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/26/2007 02:53:13 PM
Category: TV, Hockey, Football
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