2012 might be one of the most Jekyll and Hyde playoffs in the NHL’s history. Especially in terms of television coverage and ratings. Round one was great. It grabbed all the headlines. There were three seven game series. CBC averaged over a million viewers for three of the four series that Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. TSN averaged almost 1.5 million for Penguins vs. Flyers, a record for a 1st round series on the network that didn’t feature a Canadian team
In all TSN averaged 927, 000 viewers over 21 games. A 41% increase over last season. According to BBM numbers (however accurate they are), 42% of Canadians watched at least a minute on TSN’s first round coverage. CBC averaged about 1.7 million viewers, or almost double TSN. That’s not surprising, of course, considering they had 12 games featuring Canadian teams. CBC also boasted that about half of Canadians tuned into their coverage. Obviously there is overlap in viewers between both networks.
With the Senators and Canucks flaming out in the first round, and teams like Phoenix, Nashville, Philadelphia, Washington and St. Louis advancing to the second round over more popular teams such as Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston and San Jose, the second round ratings have fallen. Dramatically. CBC’s highest rating in the first week of the second round was 1.6 million for the OT game between the Rangers and Capitals. CBC has yet to release any ratings this week.
You’d think TSN were guarding the secret to the Holy Grail (and I don’t mean the Stanley Cup) the way they’ve kept quiet about second round ratings. TSN’s PR department has only released one number so far, 1.2 million for game one of the Kings-Blues series. I think its safe to say every game since has averaged under a million viewers.
Oh Baby… I’ve read lots of comments this year about the quality, or lack-there-of, of CBC’s legendary broadcaster Bob Cole. Cole takes the heat for hid downhill slide, he is 78 years old now, every spring. This year more have spoken up though. Many viewers are upset with CBC using Cole instead of Mark Lee or Dean Brown. Many cite his inability to follow the play and identify players as reasons the public broadcaster should remove him from action.
I’ve always loved Cole, his voice is one of the best. He gives every playoff game a “big game” feel. Mike Emrick and Chris Cuthbert are really the only others who do that for me. However, his time to step aside as CBC’s #2 commentator is coming soon. He should continue doing regional games and even a first round playoff series. However, I think Mark Lee has improved enough to become CBC’s number two. I’d also consider using Dean Brown and Garry Galley as the #3 team, if I was CBC. Dropping Cole and Millen to #4.
It is worth remembering that HNIC doesn’t always give into public pressure. Case in point: Don Cherry.
As far as Cole and Garry getting the nod over Lee and Weekes, it is almost certainly contractual. So unless CBC wants to fire Cole, they are probably stuck with the current arrangement. I would like to see Weeks move into Glenn Healy’s position though. Healy fits better in any role where Canadians don’t actually have to hear him say “Karlsson is the straw that stirs the Senators drink” week after week.
Other commentators… Of course Cole isn’t the only one taking flack online. It seems every commentator has their haters, as is the nature of the job, I guess. In the comment section of a recent The Globe article every commentator from Chris Cuthbert to Mike Emrick to Pierre McGuire gets bashed by at least one reader. The shit these guys have to put up with in the 21st century with social media is amazing. Especially considering they are (mostly) all great professionals, great guys and the best at what they do. Everyone has their likes and dislikes, but before you send them a Twitter comment, remember that.
Studio analysts… Kudos to CBC for bringing in NHL head coaches Bruce Boudreau and Kirk Muller as guest studio analysts. Boudreau in particular is a breath of fresh air to CBC’s stale studio show. Nobody knows the Capitals players like he does. I’ll admit to not watching every Coach’s Corner so far, but from what I’ve seen Don Cherry has been right more often than not. I can’t believe I’m actually saying that. CBC should also strongly consider using Tim Wharnsby on The Hotstove next season. He made a guest appearance on Sunday and was, well, better than Healy or Francis.
NHL Conference Finals… TSN will most certainly show games 1-3 of the Western Conference Final. When it begins is still to-be-confirmed. The general sense is if both eastern series wrap up by tomorrow night, it will start Friday, with HNIC getting game 1 of the East Final on Saturday. If not, it might wait until Sunday. CBC will almost certainly either have a game 7 or game 1 on Saturday night though.
If the Kings, Lakers and Clippers continue to play well, the scheduling committees at their respective leagues are going to have headaches. During the scheduled time of the Stanley Cup Final, and NBA Conference Finals, Val Halen, LMAFO and Nickelback are all scheduled to play Staples Center. Yikes.
NBA playoffs… Speaking of under-the-radar, you’d seek out NBA highlights to find them on TSN or Sportsnet. As least with TSN down to only 3 NHL games left, many NBA games will air on TSN, not TSN2, now.
Manchester Derby… Yes it was over a week ago, but ESPN’s coverage of the Manchester Derby was fantastic. Ian Darke proved he is one of the best soccer commentators in the world and Steve McManaman hid any anti-Manchester United bias well. Certainly better than ex-Manchester City player Niall Quinn did on Sky. ESPN’s soccer coverage is among the best things they do.
EURO 2012… No word yet on what commentary feed TSN will use for EURO 2012. I’m hoping for ESPN, who are using Darke, former Champions League/current Scottish Premier League commentator Derek Rae and MLS commentator Adrian Healey. There isn’t a better line-up of commentators in the world for this event, including BBC and ITV in Britain.
Premier League week 38…. I’ve heard a lot of complaints that TSN and Sportsnet are only showing four live Premiership matches this Sunday. Most in Britain would love to have four games on live. I’ll have more on the final day of the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A seasons later this week.