Stanley Cup Finals: How The NHL Is Slashing Itself In The Foot...Again!!!

Ric RobertsContributor IMarch 7, 2009

It was announced that games one and two of the Stanley Cup Finals will be aired on NBC this year. Games three and four will be shown on Versus, and the final three games of the series, if necessary, will be back on NBC. While this may seem like a good idea at first glance, there are still problems with the NHL and the way they are marketing the league.

With the first two games being on NBC, this will give the NHL a chance at a bigger weekend audience. If past numbers tell us anything, it is that this move really won't make a huge difference. Hockey fans would rather see a clinching game than the series opener. While NBC reaches 112 million households, Versus only reaches 75 million households, which will greatly deprive a large portion of the viewing public from seeing a potential Cup clinching win in a four game sweep.

Over the last ten years, either ESPN or Versus has shown the first two games of the Finals. The remaining games of the series were shown on larger viewership networks. This still is not the greatest option either. It can be difficult for the casual fan to understand the dynamic of the two teams and how the flow of the series has gone not having seen the first two games. This is the equivalent of watching a three hour dramatic movie, but just getting to see the last 75 minutes.

The NHL has two true showcases every year, the All Star Game and the Stanley Cup Finals. Somehow they seem to screw up both opportunities to gain fans. This can be seen in the viewership totals and the scheduling of the televised games. This does not even include the poor attempt at gaining an audience with the nationally televised regular season games. The commissioner's office has done way more harm than good in their decisions on how to air this great sport.

If the NHL wants to grow in the public eye, the Stanley Cup Finals has to be readily available to be seen by as many viewers as possible. Putting some of the games on a network that only 65% of Americans have available is not the smartest move. Whether fans cannot see the first two games or a potential clinching game, both scenarios are bad for the league. This just looks like another example of Commissioner Gary Bettman over thinking a horrible idea.