|ESPN (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
One of the questions that I have often asked myself is; does ESPN even need to show hockey highlights? Why would they? NHL Hockey fans know that if they want to watch the NHL in the USA, they can watch the sport on NBCSN or on your regional sports channel like FSN. Or you can do what many NHL fans do, they simply purchase the NHL package, NHL Center Ice. This one of the main reasons that I don’t watch ESPN at all anymore. The only actual hockey games that ESPN shows on the sports network, is during the NCAA hockey tourney.
Allan Muir, SI.COM --- SportsCenter likes to cover the NFL. A lot. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning got mentioned more often for crossing the street than most athletes did for making game-winning plays. They’ll throw down the adjective “elite” to describe anything from a prospect to a haircut.
Where Burns’ sacrifice starts paying off is when he examines the treatment of hockey on the program. Now we all know it is an afterthought, falling just below Tim Tebow’s dating life and just above Little League baseball and arena football. His numbers bear out that belief. Out of a total broadcast time of 23,052.75 minutes last year, SportsCenter devoted all of 459.5 to covering the NHL.
That’s a whopping 2.7 percent of its airtime.
Does that seem like a reasonable representation of the interest in the game across this great land? Of course not. And that’s why many hockey fans can’t be bothered with the show.
But relative to some other numbers, hockey has some surprising company among the other sports that are fighting for scraps of airtime.
Consider golf, a sport that boasts one of the world’s most high-profile athletes in Tiger Woods and draws decent ratings on the major U.S. networks. It earned just 3.3 percent of ESPN’s airtime. That’s more than the NHL, but given golf’s profile, the margin isn’t as great as I expected.