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NBC Still Misses The Point

You would think after signing a record-setting national TV rights deal with the NHL, that NBC might think about, you know, actually helping to grow the game.

Think again.

While the Mayor of Boston cites logistical problems as the reason that there will be no viewing party at TD Garden for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, you can’t help but think that the heavy hand of NBC Sports and Gary Bettman have once again have put the kibosh on viewing-party fun.

The question is why.

Of course the standard answer is that NBC and the NHL want every single TV rating point — or tenth of a point — that they can generate.  Fair enough.  (Although I’d like to know with how horrible the current NBC/NHL TV deal is how much it really costs anybody)

When you start doing the math on how many Nielsen-metered homes are in that giant Boston DMA, and then figure out how small a number of  people in that DMA are attending a viewing party, the statistical odds of a member of a Nielsen family being at that viewing party with their TV at home not tuned to the game are minute.  We’re talking pimple on a gnats ass minute.  What’s more, who is to say that the people at the arena/lawn party weren’t going to be watching the game with friends or at a bar anyway?  After all, you come to watch it on that screen for the community experience, not the quality of the image.

Which brings my to my point.  After watching two and a half years of playoff runs on the big screen at the Civic Arena, I can say with confidence that there were thousands of fans who were either new Penguin/hockey fans or casuals who had their loyalty to the team and game strengthened by that community experience.   The crowd was young and old, but mostly young.  They weren’t the typical attendees to games, they weren’t season ticket holders.  They were fans that loved hockey, and loved sharing the experience with other fans.  They had a blast.  And they came back.  In droves.  Their love for the game was enhanced by the community experience they had at those giant lawn parties.

Is that worth 1/10th of a rating point?  NBC?  Mr. Bettman?

The irony in all of this is that NBC cut away to a live shot of a large crowd in Vancouver watching the CBC feed of the game.  I almost choked when I saw it.  Twitter lit up from Pittsburgh fans calling them on it.  As if their credibility wasn’t already in the sewer, that shot threw a couple more inches of sludge on top of it.

CBC, by the way, is very supportive of the viewing parties and letting their signal be shown.  It’s no secret that they offered the Penguins free use of their signal when NBC denied the team the ability to show their feed during the games.  Of course, draconian threats from Bettman — and to be honest if what I heard was even remotely accurate draconian is a kind term — put an end to those plans.

Versus and FSN Pittsburgh were also very willing partners, and with the new ownership situation I’m curious to see what happens next season.  But in the past, both would send out signs and banners, posters and hats for the fans, and would put a camera operator down there and take shots from the lawn throughout the night.  They got it.  NBC?  Not so much.

NBC is wrong here, and the commissioner of the NHL is on their side.  Through discussions with high level league execs, it was unanimous that there was one guy that could fix this — Gary Bettman.  He chose not to.


Why not strengthen the ties that bind young fans to the game?  Why take such a negative PR hit for something that would have a negligible affect on TV ratings?  Why punish something that obviously works for hockey?

NBC fails in this situation because they miss the main point:  more ways for fans to come together and share their love the game of hockey is better for the overall health of the league.  Which means more potential viewers.

Obviously, I’m not a fan of NBC.  I feel that they’ve cheapened the game and haven’t treated it right.  From the revenue share deal coming out of the lockout that all but killed any hope of re-signing with ESPN, to the Senators/Sabers/Horse race fiasco, to the anti-fan stand on viewing parties, NBC has been a poor partner to the NHL.  But put the blame on the NHL for not stepping in to protect the game and the fans.

We probably won’t know what the real deal is in Boston.  We just know that it’s another missed opportunity.

Wonder how the next 10 years will be.

For SCF: My favorite “run through a wall” video

With the Stanley Cup Final upon us, I wanted to break out my favorite motivational/run through the wall video.

I don’t know who writes these anthems for Versus, but man they do a great job. And I would love to write a script for this guy one day. I don’t care what about, I just want to write something kick ass that he reads. Maybe my voice mail message.

What makes these Versus promos so good is that they take a no apologies approach to get the message across. And it’s genuine. How many people fail at that? Afraid of the language, afraid of the tone. Afraid to make something with this much impact.

I remember the heartbreak of losing the in the SCF to final to Detroit before we won the next year. Feel exactly the way he does about second place.

Really enjoy these every year. Sure hope NBC doesn’t screw it up.

Social Media Stats For Pittsburgh Teams

Sports Business Daily has an article out on global social media stats for professional sports teams.

These numbers are based on Twitter followers and Facebook page likes.  Pittsburgh numbers after the jump.
Continue Reading…

Penguins Lead NHL Local TV Ratings Again

From the Pittsburgh Business Times:

For at least the fourth consecutive season, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the kings of the NHL’s local TV ratings, as Pens games on ROOT Sports this season averaged the league’s highest rating of 8.68.

The Penguins also have attracted the NHL’s largest average audience, at 101,000 homes per game, even though Pittsburgh is the league’s 22nd largest market.

The Art of The Media Scrum

Got a message from @erinkpgh on Twitter over the weekend asking about press conference audio.  A question that we’ve also got a few times is about the audio from the questions during Dan Bylsma’s press conferences.

This got me thinking about my days shooting locker room video – not only for the Penguins but for the other major sports teams in town throughout my career — and the cast of characters you encounter while doing it.  Answers on press conference and the “locker room scrum” all-star team after the jump.

First off, we do mic the media members for Dan Bylsma’s press conferences.  You should be able to hear these questions on the video clips that are on PensTV.   Is it perfect?  No. The way that the media spreads out makes it hard for a static mic to get clear and balanced audio for every question.  For the playoffs, we do have extra staff that tries to move around with a wireless mic, but for regular season games this just isn’t practical.

The buzz.  We hear it from time to time. Sometimes it’s not true buzz — it’s something like HVAC blowing at an inopportune time which then gets amplified on the recording. On occasion we also have someone “buzz the box” aka plug a cable or wireless transmitter into the mult-box (the box that we let media plug into so they can get their recording right off the mic) that bad, thus infecting everybody’s audio feed.  We’ve actually improved this quite a bit from the Civic Arena where it seemed to happen every three games.

Anyway, we’ll be taking a look at the recording used for the radio broadcasts at this Thursday’s game.  Think I know what the problem is, but we’ll double check for sure.

As for getting post-game (and practice) audio, all I can say is that it’s a treat. You have limited time with the players and you have a dozen other people trying to get the sound that they need for their story or broadcast.  Most of this is done in a “scrum”, that is, player availability that’s not done at a podium.  Usually this is done at a locker stall but can happen impromptu anywhere in the locker room.

Add to the fact that player availability for all players is pretty much going on at the same time and you find yourself in a very intense 10 minute frame to get a lot done.

Hats off to the people that do this every day.  It’s tough.  It’s hot.  It smells.  It’s cramped. Multiple scrums at one time. I’m glad I don’t have to do it anymore except in extreme emergency cases.

But on the lighter side, you encounter a colorful cast of characters.  These folks mentioned below I’ve encountered in NHL, NFL, and MLB locker rooms across the country:

The Arm Shaker:  This guy normally has his arm stretched out over 2 or 3 peoples arms.  A few minutes into a scrum, his arm begins to shake profusely as he has problems holding his mic or recorder out with his arm fully extended.   One of two things now happens:  he starts distracting both the player and the other reporters with the uncontrollable shaking (usually banging into other peoples mics) or he attempts to shift to the other arm, completely upsetting the entire janga pile of people.

Captain Oblivious: You have 10-15 people trying to get a microphone into a six inch space.  The common courtesy is usually to stand sideways to let as many people fit in as possible.  Not this guy.  Usually parked dead center, he squares up directly to the player taking up three spaces.  Probably the kind of person that parks their 1982 Oldsmobile 88 directly on the painted lines in parking spots rending another space useless.

The Lens Blocker: As a rule this is most always a print media person. Not that they are any less important than anyone else, but all they really need is an audible recording to write from, not stellar air-quality audio. Despite that, what LB does is throw his arm and recorder over the shoulders of camera guys that actually need a clean image, ensuring that you have the guys elbow or recorder in your shot just so he can get 2 inches closer to the player.   Also sometimes will resort to the “over the top” approach, which also makes him a hybrid with the Back Leaner.

The Back Leaner: This guy is creepy.  Late to the scrum, he spots any clearing 1 inch or more and tries to get his mic in there. He accomplishes this by leaning on any available part of your body for leverage.  You remind him that those aren’t pillows and you try to concentrate on getting what you need from the scrum.

The Flanker: You’ve seen this guy, or his hand/microphone at least.  Another one late to the party this guy gets up on the locker stall seat and tries to come in from the extreme side of the player. Also tends to ask multiple questions from this angle so the player has to turn to his extreme right or left and talk away from everyone elses mic.

Stinkenstein: It’s a given.  In any crush of humanity, somebody always stinks. Sports scrums have a +2x modifier on this. 

One Man Show:  This is a camera guy that has to a.) shoot video b.) hold a mic and c.) ask a question.  We all feel bad for him, most of us have been there.  He’s also a tower of awkwardness. Poor guy.

BFF: The hero of the scrum.  He’s a buddy of yours, sees that you got blocked out, and grabs your microphone for you and gets you in range.

The Bulldozer:  Camera guys aren’t without blame.  The Bulldozer generally arrives late, and slowly plows his way to the front of the scrum.  Not happy with just a clear shot, he makes it a point to get to the front of the pile, blocking a handful of other people in his wake.

The Prankster:  This is always a player, since media members wouldn’t dare do it to one another.  The prankster will sneak up behind a camera guy and unplug his mic cable from the back of his camera.  With pickpocket-like stealth, the poor camera guy is stuck trying to replug his cable in the middle of an angry scrum.

The Photobomber: You’ve all seen him.  The sheepish reporter that was wayy to late to the party and now has relegated himself to standing behind the subject.  The always have the same “I’m embarrassed that I’m in all these camera shots, but I need this sound for my story” look.

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