Versus 2 - ESPN 0
Sir Joe Bogle
"Back Back Back Back Back....caught..."
"He could.....go......alll...the....w Tackled at the 3."
"Cool as the other side of the pillow."
Hockey sure is, Stuart, and you won't get a chance to screw it up.
The Powers that be in the NHL, signed a 10 year/$2 Billion deal today, trumping the offers by ABC/ESPN who offered $680MM over 12 years and CBS who offered offered $800MM over 10.You might remember the NHL on ESPN, Gary Thorne messing up name after name but turning into a soccer announcer after a goal, you might remember Barry Melrose, Pierre McGuire clone but with hair (Also head coach of the LA Kings who couldn't win a Cup with Wayne Gretzky as his Captain) but you might also remember ESPN for the network who low balled the NHL when they needed them the most, around the time of the players lockout in 2005.
ESPN offered $18M in 2005, and $21M in 2007. A little known channel named OLN paid $72.5M in 2007-08, $73.8M in 2008-09, $77.9M in 2009-10 and $79.1M for 2010-2011 for the rights.Not many people heard of this channel (Me included) but they started to build an audience and changed their channel name to Versus. People don't realize, that if it wasn't for Vs. paying that money for the rights, the salary cap doesn't go up. While ESPN plugged their poker tournaments, WNBA, bowling and Soccer. Versus kept upping their ratings.Vs averaged 381,000 viewers in 2008/2009, and 368,000 last season. ESPN had a high of 261,000 in 1993-94 and in 2003-04 only had 198,000.
The NHL has more of a say in what games get shown on Versus than on ESPN (ESPN's offer requires that one of 8 teams be involved in all games (Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Washington, Philly, NYR, and Boston - Versus has no such requirement).
I am very happy the NHL has signed with Versus, the NHL is #1 on that channel..On ESPN they'd be 3rd or maybe 4th most talked about sport. I am happy that the ESPN, with their corny cliches, won't be covering alot of hockey, just keep talking about the negative apsects of the sport (Looking at you Around the Horn and PTI). Just keep up the important stories you like to cover like LeBron James, is Brett Favre texting women, Tiger Woods and his cheating putter, and the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry but keep you dirty hands off the NHL. It requires tough athletes to play it, and it takes tough fans to enjoy it. Go back to your Poker games, and find Craig Kilborn, he's been missing for years.
PS. Another reason to like Versus over ESPN, Gary Bettman recommended the ESPN deals in both 2005 and 2008, and both times it was voted down by the owners.