First of all, let me say thank you to all the fans who have supported this effort to call for better broadcasting on NBC, however hopeless or piteous it may seem.
This issue has been met with a few common responses. On the positive we have had overwhelming support for Bob Miller and agreement of NBC’s broadcasters marked lack of excellence.
Of course there is always negativity to be displayed whenever an opinion is voiced. I welcome discourse.
The discourse from the dissenting side however has been rife with condescension, apathy, a clear misunderstanding of the greater issues and at times, total ignorance.
I bring you an article from Tom Hoffarth of The Daily News entitled “Kings fans face playoff reality with NBC and NHL”.
You want to skate with the big boys, you have to go by the big-boy rules.
And that includes sharpening your blades when TV tells you it’s the right time.
Wonderful, we begin with the pervasive attitude of automatically bowing down to power. You’ll notice a distinctly Un-American theme throughout the arguments against the request for Bob Miller to do National Broadcasts. Yes, I went there. It is Un-American to insist, as so many have insisted, that because someone has a big stick, I should back down and be hit with that stick.
NBC isn’t, nor should it be, apologizing for the fact that the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoff games appearing every which way on its network-owned channels since April have generated a record number of viewers, no matter how the ratings are calibrated.
This claim to ratings may be true, I haven’t tracked all the ratings, though it doesn’t bother to mention that games like LA’s series and sweep clinching victory over St. Louis was one of the most poorly rated hockey games in distant record. But I’m the glad Tom is so willingly to immediately give the massive corporation his full support. I’m sure they’d be happy to return the favor.
The Southern California NHL fans who have seen the Kings reach the conference finals for the first time in 19 years might remain in some kind of cultural cable shock, most accustomed to the days when the local broadcast team of Bob Miller and Jim Fox were allowed to stay on doing live game coverage on the same channel all the way through the Finals. ESPN was the national broadcaster way back then.
Condescension once again. This assumes that LA fans don’t bother watching the playoffs other years and don’t understand that local broadcasts are blocked in favor of national broadcasts. This argument continues in this article and elsewhere, based off the premise that those like Tom insist we simply don’t understand the concept of a national versus a local broadcast. Quite the contrary, local broadcasters often are hired to do national telecasts – Brian Hayward – all we ask for is that one of the best in the business, Bob Miller, be afforded the same opportunity.
As for ESPN, hockey would be much better off if the contract with ESPN wasn’t bungled in the first place. It is good that the sport is getting national attention again, but let us not pretend that this is some huge victory for the NHL when truly it is a long delayed correcting of an earlier error. We call this square one.
Sam Flood, NBC’s executive producer of NHL coverage, said he has not received a flood of negative emails, tweets or texts about how these playoffs are playing in L.A. through the prism of the peacock’s partnership with new owners Comcast.
I find using the term flood in the same sentence in reference to a man named Flood to be indicative of poor writing skills and a lack of vocabulary, but that is besides the point. Flood may be right, he may be lying. This is a matter of opinion as to what constitutes “a flood” and really amounts to Flood saying “not enough for me to care, ants”.
For as challenging as it might be for Kings fans to find their way around the remote control, the network’s setup to covering the NHL means greater things in the bigger picture, he said.
Useless condescension once again. I am comforted to know that the line between impassioned bloggers like myself and paid professionals who work for newspapers has become nearly nonexistent. We’ll address Flood’s point about the bigger picture in a second.
“It’s a good system,” he said Thursday from his New York office. “It’s no different than the NBA or Major League Baseball. This is professional sports and the NHL is obviously important in that landscape.
“It’s reality, and it’s a great thing for the sport on a national platform. It shows how far it’s come and how much bigger it’s become.”
Of course the man in charge of the system thinks its a good system. As for comparisons to NBA and MLB, those sports have a built-in national audience, much larger than hockey. They don’t meed to appease local fans the way that the NHL does and should. This notion of the bigger picture is quite simply that a major network wants to maximize profit. They are passing this off as good for the sport when it is truly just good for their company. The only thing that makes it good for the sport is that without exclusivity, the national network likely doesn’t bother with the NHL. The exclusivity itself is superfluous to what is good for the sport.
If a local feed that blacked out the national feed was allowed, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a national feed. The game is still reaching just as many homes. People in the local market, oddly enough, have their local channel. In fact more people in Los Angeles have Fox Sports West than they do NBCSN. I don’t have numbers on it, but NBCSN is part of a larger cable package, whereas FSW is part of a lesser, basic package. My understanding is that everyone who has NBCSN in LA has FSW, but not everyone who has FSW has NBCSN.
Having a local feed for the local fans and a national feed for the rest of the nation does not disparage the benefit of the game reaching a national audience in any way, shape or form. What is does do is discourage a corporation focused on the bottom line to make a deal with the NHL. Exclusivity is NBC strong arming the NHL into getting something it desperately wants: national exposure.
But this isn’t even the issue. When Kings fans say “we want Bob Miller”, that is being deviously regurgitated by outlets such a Hoffarth’s column as if the demand was “we want Fox Sports West”. Well any Kings fan will tell you, they don’t have any affinity towards Fox Sports West, it is to Bob Miller that we give our respect and devotion. What we have asked for is that NBC hire Bob Miller, the same way they hired Doc Emrick, the same way they hired Brian Hayward for some incomprehensible reason. This question is not responded to because it would require NBC to disparage Bob Miller directly, giving reasons why they wouldn’t want to hire him. This is where the contract aspect gets thrown around, but contract issues can always be worked out if both parties are willing and I see no reason why FSW would bar Miller from signing a temporary contract to work for NBC. No, NBC has other reasons and if they were to put them forth as to why Bob Miller isn’t good enough for their network they would instantly alienate its second biggest media market in Los Angeles hockey fans. So instead they divert attention from the actual request.
Meaning, grow up or go off and grumble elsewhere.
I have been diplomatic on this issue. My diplomacy is towards NBC. Tom Hoffarth is nothing but an inflammatory columnist who finds it amusing to makes such remarks towards the people of the city in which he writes for a newspaper. Thusly, my sentiment towards this quote is short, but laced with expletives. I did not know who Tom Hoffarth was before today, I will return to that state of existence tomorrow.
“If you want hockey, you’re going to the NBC Sports Network, and if it’s not there, we’ve let people know where to find it,” Flood said. “The NHL is exclusive over a distinct network group.
This is a response to people being upset when game 3 began and they saw the Flyers in overtime instead of Kings/Blues. The Kings game was on another NBC network, however NBC failed to afford the simple courtesy of a graphic or an announcement by the commentators telling Kings fans what channel to go to since the schedule as listed was undone by an overtime. The amount of blame being thrust upon viewers due to a small but costly oversight on the part of the network is astonishing. NBC could have fessed up to a small mistake but instead chose to insult its viewers. As far as Sam Flood is concerned, saying “The NHL is exclusive over a distinct network group” is sufficient and denies his company more interactive and timely updates on its listings.
“This is a national sport and the greatest statement for the game is this exclusivity. It’s helped outside the home markets pushing agendas.”
Self aggrandizement. Do a better job. This is the problem with exclusivity, it destroys the need to strive for excellence. When the purpose of a venture is profit, competition is the greatest equalizer, or so goes the premise on which this country was founded.
The Kings’ opener of the Western Conference finals against Phoenix starts at 5 p.m. Sunday, but not on KNBC-Channel 4, which has the final round of The Players Championship golf tournament during the midday and prime-time shows at night. Game 1 goes back to the NBC Sports Network, which is in nearly 80 million homes across the country since it was known as Versus, and is accessible to that other 20 million if they care to upgrade (i.e., pay more) with their cable or dish operator.
Nice of Tom to needlessly plug the giant corporation at the end there.
Brian Engblom, the former Kings defenseman and team radio analyst with Nick Nickson from 1991-95, will be back as part of the NBC crew on the Western Conference finals with Dave Strader on the call, and Darren Pang inside the glass.
This is bad news for the Kings, because Brian Engblom is not very good at his job.
But wait, just last year Dave Strader was the play by play guy the Coyotes. It would be utter blasphemy if Bob Miller called one of these games! Of course I know that Strader is no longer employed by the Coyotes, a fact that I’m sure will haunt the fans in Phoenix as they get to listen to their known and comfortable voice call their Conference Finals games.
Engblom understands how the Kings’ viewers must be a bit miffed getting this far without Miller and Fox, but every local market deals with it.
“Bob and Jim are a terrific team – you don’t last as long as they have without being great,” Engblom said. “But with all due respect, when was the last time basketball had any playoff games (past the first round) done by the local broadcasters? Football was doing this way before us.
“I think it just shows how long it’s been for Kings fans to be anywhere this deep in the playoffs. They’re just not used to it yet. They need to get up to speed here.”
I don’t particularly care what Engblom has to say during games, let alone in this article, but it’s good to know that he is willing to condescend to Kings fans as well. Once again we are being treated as ignorant when we ask for change or better yet, accountability to performance.
Engblom said when he left Staples Center last week after doing Games 3 and 4 of the Kings-St. Louis Western Conference semifinals, he got grief from fans of both teams, which proved to him that he and Strader called it right.
Good. If he was enjoyable to listen to he wouldn’t have gotten as much grief. The fact that he thinks unanimous disgust with his commentating is proof that he is doing his job correctly is a sign of how truly out of touch he is with the idea notion of broadcasting. Of course, this is assuming that Engblom said such a thing that isn’t being quoted directly. It is possible our fantastic writer Tom Hoffarth is drawing that conclusion himself and denoted it to Engblom… Which now that I think of it, sounds oddly familiar…
Also, there were St. Louis fans at games 3 and 4?
“You can’t have local broadcasters do a national game, because it’s completely different, and it’s amazing to me how fans don’t want to acknowledge that,” Engblom said. “Doing a game for a national audience, you’re trying to figure out the story from different angles and find a balance. But then this business is so subjective. People love or hate you. It’s way more than when you’re a player. Sometimes it feels personal.”
Now Engblom is condescending to Bob and Jim, insinuating that he has a skill they do not and could not possess. This is also merely an excuse for all the grief he has taken for his endless, mindless babble. “Of course I chatter on about nothing, it makes it better for everyone!” This is what we call appealing to the lowest common denominator, which again, is counter-productive if the desired result is excellence, which for NBC I believe we have clearly established it is not.
And Brian, it is personal. You are a boring listen. You are far from unbiased and it’s not like when you were playing, because hockey players do something that doesn’t involve interfacing their personalities with the fans. Your job does, and we have decided your personality leaves us bedraggled.
In the NHL’s big picture, the Kings bring the No. 2 national TV market to the final four. On the other end, the New York Rangers are a win away from delivering the No. 1 market. Yet most of the teams that did generate higher local TV ratings have been eliminated. A recent Forbes story pointed out that the Kings were 26th out of 30 teams in local TV ratings on Fox Sports West.
A symptom of the vast majority of Los Angeles fans being fickle and not hopping on board a wagon until the band is rolling out of town.
I’m going to skip ahead here because the next few paragraphs are uninteresting. The story ends with…
“It’s not trying to get any demographic or chase this audience or that one,” he said. “It’s about hockey being the topic of conversation, being true to the game. You cover it, and honor the sport and see how great it continues to be. You get more people engaged.
“Hockey went to the backburner for a time in Chicago and Boston, and now, nothing is hotter. That’s what happens when you catch the fever. That’s happening in L.A. even when there are two basketball teams in the playoffs. We realize they have a lot bigger fan base, and they can catch the bug and be passionate fans.”
OK, so Flood can say something that doesn’t involve his own voice being redirected back into his skull in order to increase its size. Tom ends the article here, in what feels more and more like a PR piece for NBC. No reference to the topic of the article, and no conclusion, perhaps because Tom drew his conclusion in the first sentence – another hallmark of a fantastic writer and a better thinker.
Unfortunately Tom’s attitude is one I’ve seen all over the Internet, even from some Kings fans.
“It is what it is.”
I often feel this way about many subjects. Sunsets. Rain. Aging. I do not feel this way about companies who make decisions and are supposed to be held accountable to their consumers. Apathy drives me crazy.
“It’s not fair to Phoenix fans to have Bob call the game.”
And yet Dave Strader is calling the games. Is that some petty form of karma? As if karma was the universe’s bully smacking us forcefully with our own fists while demanding we stop hitting ourselves? Separately, since again I know it’s slightly different with Strader not being employed by the Coyotes anymore, then Bob should be calling the Eastern Conference finals. In my appeal I never distinctly said Bob should only be calling the Kings’ games. I said Bob Miller is one of the best broadcasters around and based on merit and excellence needs to be calling games on the national stage.
And my favorite: “The NBC broadcasts don’t really bother me.”
This is the lowest common denominator talking. Anything less than great bothers me. But again, my goal is excellence and my goals seem to diverge with NBC’s and the expectations of some viewers.
All in all, I merely want the Kings and Bob Miller to know how much we support them. I want NBC to know that the people they have hired are doing a piss poor job more often than not. I want to be understood and responded to by people who can grasp a concept without compounding it with baggage I didn’t check in to this flight.
I still want to hear Bob Miller. I am thinking of other things the Kings can do to appease us in this matter and will write more letters to the appropriate parties as I come up with a plan to suggest.
But truly, I want this to be an issue.
Because I want the Kings the whoop the Coyotes.
I want the Cup.