Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The NHL Network

I signed up for the NHL Network last night for the first time, more on a whim than anything. We've put it on a couple of times in the newsroom over the summer when things are slow, and there've been some interesting "classic games" shown. (The Vancouver-Winnipeg series in 1992-93 was on the other day, and boy, was Pavel Bure a treat to watch again.)

Even with Centre Ice, I find there isn't always hockey programming to watch when I'm looking for something, and I've heard more than a few bloggers, etc., online talk about the NHL Network as something they either want or enjoy having.

What do people think of the channel? What is some of the best programming? I've heard it's supposed to be made available in the U.S. for the start of the coming season; has anyone signed up down south?

They're showing the Canucks-Ducks series from this spring right now, but I think I'll pass on rewatching any of that one.

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17 Comments:

At 2:09 PM, August 22, 2007, Blogger BlackCapricorn said...

Ever since the death of NHL2Tonight American NHL fans have been clamoring for a highlight show. If you can get 24 hours of hockey programming, I don't think many US hockey fans will leave the house.

All I have seen was On The Fly at the ungodly hours Vs would put it on last year. I am all for it, the only question I have is will it be part of the basic cable package, on a premium sports tier and/or part of Center Ice? James or anyone else, any insights?

 
At 2:12 PM, August 22, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

It's not part of Centre Ice here; I wish it was. It was on the secondary sports package on ExpressVu here, and cost a couple bucks a month.

Guess we'll see if it's worth it.

 
At 2:24 PM, August 22, 2007, Anonymous Axeman said...

If all you want is highlights, it's great. Other than that, pretty bad in my mind. The hosts are not, generally, very good. They know hockey (many are former players) but they really lack any personality. But that isn't my biggest complaint, because after all, I'm not watching to see who is the nest host/announcer. My issue is with their extremely limited number of "Classic" games. 2006 playoffs are classic? There have been a thousand re-runs of 2004 Ottawa/Toronto, and things of that vintage. I'd love to see more true classic stuff- even Google video seems to have more video. The hour long series highlight pieces are pretty good, as they take n some 90's and even a couple of 80's series, but in general they have very limited programming right now. Hope it improves.

 
At 2:26 PM, August 22, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

The 04 Battle of Ontario was beautiful, just like the three before it.

I would sign up for the NHL network, living near NYC, but since I can't even get the NFL network it's pretty doubtful I'll have the chance.

 
At 2:30 PM, August 22, 2007, Anonymous Kevin M (St. Louis) said...

I'm not aware that it's available anywhere in the US. I have DirecTV and they don't carry it.

 
At 2:36 PM, August 22, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

The word is that the U.S. will have it prior to the season's start, likely in September. Check the link I used.

 
At 4:02 PM, August 22, 2007, Blogger Gautham Ganesan said...

According to that wiki article, it looks like it will be on an extended sports tier here in the States. I would gladly sign up for it; any hockey coverage, however low-quality it may be, is an exponential improvement over the 2 minutes a week SportsCenter shows hockey highlights.

 
At 4:02 PM, August 22, 2007, Blogger Beth said...

"If you can get 24 hours of hockey programming, I don't think many US hockey fans will leave the house."

Yep. Just have to find a telecommute job.

 
At 4:32 PM, August 22, 2007, Anonymous michelle said...

I have the NHL Network as part of my ExpressVu package. I can't say I ever watch it, especially in the off-season when they are constantly re-running first round matchups from the most recent playoff season. Even during the season, I'm more likely to flip over to TheScore or TSN, or whatnot.

I do love that new CentreIce channel though, the one where you can watch 6 games at once. Seriously, that's just beyond awesome (seems to drive others crazy, but I don't care).

 
At 4:50 PM, August 22, 2007, Blogger PMC said...

I had the NHL Network as part of my cable package when I lived in Montreal.

On the whole it is too much filler and not enough killer but the highlight packages, either late at night or early in the morning are pretty good.

I also enjoyed the classic games because you can see how much the game has changed. Especially in defensive play and the size of goaltenders (both body and equipment) which are so much different. And watching those games where the goalies are maskless is really something. I don't know how they did it.

They also reguarily play the Legends of Hockey series which except for its bombastic style is quite good. And they have lots of Top Ten highlight shows such as "The Top Ten Goalies of 1984" or "The Top Ten Goals of 1995". Being highlights they can be fun to watch even if they rank Reggie Lemelin way too low for my liking.

The network is part of the TSN family and you see some crossover, especially on the website. If you have no other sources of hockey or are hardcore and want every detail you can get it is worth it.

When I had the channel it focused on the Canadian teams. I assume that will change or that there will be an alternative version for the US.

 
At 5:52 PM, August 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was an interesting item in the WS Journal a couple of days ago about how US cable operators are battling the NFL over the NFL Network. The cable companies want the NFL Network on the specialty tier (thousands of subscribers) and not on basic cable (millions of subscribers). The cable companies appear to be reluctant to jack up the price for basic subcribers.

For reference, the WSJ quoted these charges per subscriber: CNN & MTV $0.30-$0.50; NFL Network $0.70; ESPN $3.25.

With all that as background, I guessing the most likely home for the NHL Network in the US will be the specialty tier.

 
At 7:11 PM, August 22, 2007, Anonymous David said...

It's not available anywhere in the US yet, so you can't sign up. Since Comcast is making it available, I can only assume it'll hit Comcast customers first. I'd expect it to be in some tiered sports package.

 
At 9:49 PM, August 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's too irritating to watch a couple minutes of a game, and then get pulled back to the studio to listen to a couple of under-prepared stiffs talk about how "Jagr's really playing well tonight" or "That was a huge save by Luongo." Well, duh.
If I"m going to invest time in a game, I want to be able to sell it in its entirety. And if you're going to force me to watch talking heads, they better tell me something I don't know.

 
At 9:56 PM, August 22, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Fair enough (and thanks for all the comments). I think it's going to come in handy just for the classic games, but I guess we'll see.

I like the idea of jumping game to game (it's often what I do with Centre Ice), but having talking heads come in isn't my cup of tea.

Not too much of an investment at the moment, anyway.

 
At 7:39 AM, August 23, 2007, Blogger ninja said...

Can't you deduct the cost as a business expense? You should do the same with Centre Ice, and any other subscriptions you have.

 
At 10:05 AM, August 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the Wikipedia post, "The major obstacle that must be overcome before actual launch is that the NHL wants the network to be paid for by the customer as part of an expanded sports tier. ".

Is the NHL stupid (wait, don't answer that)? The NFL Network gets hardly any ratings...and it's the number 1 sport in the U.S., has tons of cheerleader (i.e. - "T 'n A" programming and comes on most satellite systems for free.

Who the hell would pay for the NHL network? And the networks they bundle it with no one would want anyway (do you really want the Gold Channel?)

 
At 9:47 PM, August 23, 2007, Anonymous swabbubba said...

Technology is around to avoid missing hockey. I know a Flame Fan living in the UK that has buddy with a sling box. Dude gets all the games.

I don't know if that is stealing as it really is just an extension of the guys cable.

 

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