ESPN/ESPN2/ABC to cut the number of hockey telecasts.

Is less more? According to the powers that be at Disney, it is. For the 2002-2003 season, ESPN and ESPN2 will cut the number of televised games from 102 to 71. Their argument is that they do not want to saturate the market with uninteresting games and would rather focus on higher rated games.

ESPN/ESPN2 also announced that they will be moving their “National Hockey Night” from Wednesday to Thursday to accomodate the NBA package which they recently purchased. The NBA games will be shown on Wednesday and Friday evenings.

With the cut in the number of games, the network(s) will not show any hockey until after December 5th and will not start a regular hockey schedule until after January 16th. ESPN/ESPN2 will broadcast 6 Sunday afternoon games and ABC will broadcast 5 weeks of regionalized games.

What puzzles me as a fan is on one hand, they talk about focusing on better matchups, justifying the cut in the number of games. On the otherhand, out of the 5 games on ABC in the NY market, the Rangers will be on all 5 weeks, the Devils once (I assume a Rangers-Devils matchup) and the Islanders 0. Now if memory serves me correctly, the Devils and the Islanders made the playoffs while the Rangers did not. Where is the better matchups? As far as ESPN/ESPN2 is concerned, the Rangers get 10 appearances, the Islanders 4, the Devils 1.

Something isn’t kosher here. They might say they are focusing on quality, but in reality, the are keeping the same mindset they have had over the past few years of the contract which is put the big name teams on no matter how good or bad they are. Now that they have shelled out a ton on the NBA, they need to save money. So to do that, they cut back on the number of NHL games by almost 30% I will be the first to admit that a lot of the games did not interest me, but there were a number of games that were very interesting. Many of those were not the marquis matchups, but the 2nd level teams fighting for playoff spots or divisional batles.

Finally although I have always enjoyed ESPN’s hockey coverage (not so much of ABC’s), I could never understand why the NHL 2night program wasnt put on at a better time. Who is going to stay up till 12:30 or later on the east coast to watch it? It just shows that their commitment has dwindled over the past few years.

So I ask all of you in the States: Is less more when it comes to televised games?

41 Responses to ESPN/ESPN2/ABC to cut the number of hockey telecasts.

  1. pantherboy says:

    I prersonally could care less about ESPN. Living in Canada I obviously do not get it.

    But if you really want to watch some hockey, I suggest the Centre Ice package. You get almost all the games in the whole season (probably you will not get to see about 15 or so.) It is the greatest if you cheer for a team thats not near you, or lets say in another country.

  2. munkeyman70 says:

    I will tell ya what. This freakin sux. I have Dish Network and they dont offer Center Ice, so I rely on ESPN to give me games when the Stars arent playing(local coverage). Now I am out 30 games, compared to last year. This has nothing to do with over exposing the sport. This is all because they picked up NBA games. FU*K the NBA. That is the worst sport on earth. If more people understood hockey, it would get better ratings. THIS SUX! I hated ESPN anyway, now I have more reason to…so I guess less is more…Less Hockey=More Hate.

  3. Aetherial says:

    I saw some American broadcast during the playoffs this year when I was on business in the U.S. (I think it was ESPN?)

    It was absolutely f*cking nauseating. I could not believe that an announcer and commentator could be so bad that they actually ruined my enjoyment of the game. These two idiots, whoever they were, did just that.

  4. munkeyman70 says:

    Gary Thorne and Bill Clement, most likely…Bill isnt that bad, but Gary is a moron….They both are cheerleaders when Detroit or Colorado is on.

  5. garry1221 says:

    my opinion here ….. abc just plain sucks when it comes to hockey… they’re commentators can’t call anything right….. hell, i can make the right calls from my couch …. they disgust me….. espn/espn2 rn’t much better, but they are better….. all i can say is thank god for upn50 and foxsportsnet….. mickey redmond and ken daniels r the two best commentators i know of… a close second is that of cbc…. thank god im in michigan and get that station, i don’t have to suffer through espn or abc

  6. garry1221 says:

    one more thing i just rmemembered about….. how long is it now that bettman’s been tryin to give the league more exposure….. and how long has he not done a damn thing ….about it or anything else for that matter ……. throw him out and let me in there…. i could do better than him….. hell, any of us could

  7. Habfan1234 says:

    ABC has terrible hockey comintators. They SUCK. That is why many turn the TV off when there is a hockey game on. It it is painful watching a game on ABC at times because of the poor announcers. Here in Vancouver there is one of the best calling the games, Jim Houghson. Unlike ABC that has I think Gary Thorne and Bill Clement although Bill is a decent announcer. Another concept that I hate ABC for is the stupid afternoon playoff games on Saturday and Sunday. Games should all start at 7 EST and PST. Fortunatly I get to watch a better produce in Hockey Night In Canada. At times the announcers may be homers (Maple Leafs) but they call a great game. So to sum it all up, CBC=GOOD while ABC=ATTROCIOUS.

  8. Habfan1234 says:

    I could not have said it better myself.

  9. Forsberg21 says:

    ABC uses the same commentators as Espn does. They use the top goys from Espn actually, Gary Thorne and Bill Clement. The other guys are all Espn too, except for John Davidson, he does stuff for the New York Rangers Broadcasts, Devils, and Ctv Hoceky Night In Canada

  10. Forsberg21 says:

    I had the centre ice package last year, so I heard all the announcers, and personally I like Gary Thorne and Bill Clement. Gary keeps you into the game and Bill has great hockey knowledge. Personally I think Jim Houghson gets a little annoying after a while with his intese voice. I wonder if he talks that way off the air too, that would be weird. I think the best announcers are Mike Emerick for the Devils, Mike Lange for the Pens, and one of the teams that does the Bruins games on Nesn. Bob Miller and Jim Fox for the Kings also do a really good job, as do the SJ Sharks team.

  11. ManillaKilla says:

    I am a Detroit fan and I hate them both. Clement, Clement, head of cement. And the cheerleading thing doesn’t just stop at Detroit and Colorado, they are just usually the teams on ESPN. One day, Joe Sakic has the best wrist shot. The next day, when they are in Pittsburgh, Alex Kovalev does. It gets ridiculous.

  12. ManillaKilla says:

    ABC sucks. Gary Thorne and Bill Clement are terrible (Clement, Clement, head of cement). And the reason why Nhl2night is on so late is because it usually has to make way for Nfl2night, Nba2night, and Baseball Tonight early in the year. Hockey will never get good national coverage in the states. Television programing is all about money and raitings, and hockey generates neither of those. Well, at least here they don’t.

  13. Kariya-09 says:

    I live in Canada Quebec, so this doesnt really effect me much, and id have to say CBC has one of the best Hockey crews. Let me say two words DON CHERRY !!! Id also hope that TSN could show more hockey games.

  14. titans says:

    Gee…so now I won’t be able to watch the Ducks vs the Blue Jackets at 2 a.m.??? DAMN!! There goes my day!!

  15. Habfan1234 says:

    I forgot about Mike Emrick. I say that he is one of the top five announcers around. If he was the voice for ABC hockey then I would have no problems with it because he is one of the best.

  16. nskerr says:

    I made a mistake in posting the story above. There will be hockey prior to December 5th, just not on ESPN. All games except for opening night are on ESPN2.

  17. Habfan1234 says:

    TSN will show more games this year. They will show between 60-80 nationally telivised games a year with Gord Miller and Pierre Maguire as the announcers. They also have the rights for the first three rounds of the playoffs.

  18. NewYorkRangers says:

    Now I have nothing to distract me from doing my homework, for a while. This sucks. This may be biased and off subject, but the Rangers have two of the best broadcasters in the business (then again I haven’t heard to many other broadcasters besides the Devs, Isles, Flyers, and ESPN guys.) Sam and JD rule.

  19. adambuffalo says:

    this really blows. as i’ve stated before, i am in the military and not by choice got stationed in las vegas. therefore i won’t even get any local broadcasts. i really miss my msg channel, where i could watch all the games i wanted.

  20. Freezer says:

    If demand is hot for the 31 games that ESPN is dropping, why isn’t another network picking those games up? Does ESPN and ABC have exclusive rights to show NHL games in the USA?

  21. mikster says:

    I should win the lottery and start a 24/7 Hockey channel. Shows….games, updates…oh i can only dream.

  22. Slats says:




  23. ManillaKilla says:

    We get all 82 games of the local team. The post was refering to national telecasts.

  24. ManillaKilla says:

    One reason I hate ABC’s coverage is JD. Ugh!!! He was the analyst when they had the games on fox, that was even worse.

  25. Kariya-09 says:

    There is a channel sort of like that, its called the NHL Network, they do all sorts of stuff like show classic nhl games, profiles of hockey hall of famers from Bobby orr to Ken Hydren, and interview alot of NHL players.

  26. Kariya-09 says:

    Nice i cant wait i like Miller and Maguire, Bob mackenzie is good as well

  27. Kariya-09 says:

    Nice i cant wait. I like Miller and Maguire, Bob mackenzie is good as well

  28. Slats says:

    ya, then we get 2-3 games every saturday, on cbc for national, i get 72 oiler games, 60 flames games, 20 leaf games, 10 sens games, 10 canadiens games, and a speacial monday night game, usually detroit.


  29. Krockasian says:

    John Davidson ticks me off. For some reason he has to missprenounce every ones name. For the love of God. Its Kovalev not kovolov!!!! But the worst announcesr has got to be the guy who announces for the LA games. He pauses moe times in a sentence then i can count.

  30. Coldwar says:

    There is little to like about ESPN anymore. The announcers aren’t anywhere near competent and, like the earlier posts here said, they become cheerleaders for whichever teams they happen to be broadcasting.

    If I have to listen to Bill Clement tell me that Joe”y” Sakic (and excuse me for one second, but I think that Don Cherry should have sole rights to the addition of a “y” at the end of a name) has the best wrist”er” in the game seconds after saying that about Alexie”y” Morozov, I will go nuts.

    And then there’s Darren Pang. Who the Hell is Darren Pang, and how does he know how to beat Patrick Roy? Do me a favor, Darren … SHUT UP, and head back to the workshop … Christmas is only four months away.

    ESPN needs to figure out why they think the “less is more” attitude will work. They need to realize that the reason they lost, and continue to lose new audiencs is because of the stupidity of their broadcast team (though I do have a soft spot for Mr. Melrose). No one can sit through a whole game without screaming and/or crying.

    AND, living in MI as I do, I have the opportunity to watch it on CBC or ESPN … ESPN is nearly always atleast 10 seconds behind.

  31. Habfan4 says:

    This announcement by ESPN shows that Bettman’s plan to grow the game in the US by expansion to attract television coverage is a complete failure. Aside from the obvious, large american centres there simply is no TV market for the NHL in the US.

  32. UltimateB says:

    Garry, I absolutely agree with you. I’m a huge Wings fan, and UPN 50, along with Fox Sports Detroit, are just great. I live in Toledo and I used to watch every game and I loved those guys.

    Now, however, I’m down in Cincinnate for college and it kills me to listen to those ESPN and ABC guys. I’d almost rather listen to the games on the streaming internet radio! (What station is that, 1320 AM?) Geeze, it kills me to watch on TV, it’s like listening to a car wreck.

  33. Kariya-09 says:

    Hey the ducks will be a fun team to watch, with 2 good solid lines.

  34. Krockasian says:

    I say everyone send ESPN e-mails complainning. I’ll do it too and i have center ice. That is how nice i am. You got to listen to the public.

  35. TheDevil says:

    as much as I think the ESPN guys are retarded, at least ESPN actually reaches other countries…well, lets watch boringball…

  36. bruinsfan12 says:

    This really pisses me off! I no longer have the Center Ice package so I’m going to be stuck with shitty Bruins games all year. I don’t like many of the announcers, but I didn’t watch ESPN games for the announcers, I watched it to watch the games. ESPN is a bunch of crap and I think everybody should e-mail and complain and get your friends to e-mail and complain and all your relatives. And get all your basketball friends not to watch basketball on ESPN, because f the NBA! I thought hockey interest was supposed to grow. What a rip off

  37. ICEDOG says:

    Yeah finally a good idea. I agree with you. If I had mucho dinero I would go in with you and knock ESPN and ABC right out of the picture. Go for it.

  38. ICEDOG says:

    I am sending ESPN and ABC messages immediately. Everybody send messages to both dummy networks and tell them how you feel.

  39. ManillaKilla says:

    Thankfully, I live in MI so i get cbc. As a fan, though, it would be nice to see decent coverage with good anouncers in the states.

  40. big_booty says:

    I just want to say that Gary Thorne and John Davidson should die of gonhorrea and rot in hell.

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