A Prologue To Our Brief Foray Into The National Television Audience


Last season I did a piece on the Versus TV schedule (click on that nifty image for the link) that took a look at the teams covered throughout the year. Since tomorrow night is the first time the Sharks will be playing on Versus this season, I thought it would be prudent to revisit their coverage. Tragically, Brian Engblom's mullet is not what it used to be (just look at it's previous glory), which makes the lack of our CSN team all the more painful. I'm cooking brownies during intermission. It's hard to imagine that team of analysts getting even less relevant, but lo and behold they managed to pull it off. Damn hairstylists don't know a thing.

As for Versus in general, I'm going to paraphrase my previous tirade just for the sake of postponing arthritis (and the fact that nearly a year later I feel the same way). Let's be clear about one thing- if the NHL wants to expand their fanbase in the United States, they need to offer more games. Period.

The Versus schedule, regardless of the East Coast Bias, is deplorable at best. I'm not exactly sure if there are contract issues at work here (correct me if there are), but two lousy games a week on a Monday and Tuesday is not what I'm looking for when it comes to the flagship station of the NHL.

It's sort of mind blowing that Gary Bettman can champion Versus over ESPN, while at the same time offer games only on Mondays and Tuesdays. If this is supposed to be the number one place for potential hockey fans to get their coverage (they're not going to shell out $150 a year for Center Ice to see if they "like the sport"), then why restrict yourself? If it's a Versus programming issue where they're unwilling to broadcast more games due to the riveting fly fishing tournament on Thursday nights, then shouldn't another avenue be explored?

Regardless, here's a quick look at their coverage from a East vs. West slant:

Year All East All West Both
07-08 31 19 5
08-09 29 11 16
Change -2 -8 +11

Although Western Conference teams are getting more coverage in games featuring both conferences (a product of the new schedule no doubt), they're actually getting less coverage as a whole this year when you add each time a Western Conference team makes an appearance.

Whatever. The East Coast bias stinks, but it is what it is. And I guess it's not the first time we've had to deal with it this season. With the way the Sharks have been playing lately, we better hope they show the nation just what they've been missing out on.

Go Sharks.