The NHL has been a sinking ship in the past several years. I notice it more in a city that has an NHL team, but only has a handful of fans, most of which are from other areas of the country. That means they go to games to see their teams, not the Coyotes.
That’s a shame for the team and for the game. If the majority of hockey-ignorant people saw the games live, they would be hooked (no pun intended). It’s a guarantee. The sport is fast, fun, exciting, and action packed. Playing it gets you hooked, too.
But watching hockey games on television pretty much sucks. That’s why the NHL has been relegated to crappy time slots on second-rate channels like Versus, which most cable carriers either don’t offer or they offer in higher-cost tier packages. The casual fan won’t pay for that because it is not a good product for TV. And in this part of the country, hockey is not something kids go out and play in the street very often simply because there is no inspiration for kids to go out and play it. I remember when I used to watch sports on TV as a kid, it would inspire me to go outside and play that sport. That isn’t happening with hockey.
The only way the NHL is going to succeed on television is through HD. I saw a few games this past season on my HD channels and the difference is night and day. Football, baseball, and basketball are way better in HD for lots of reasons. The picture is clearer, the image is wider so you can see more, and the ability to follow the games is easier, like it is when you are there in real life. The puck in an NHL game is the hardest thing to follow, particularly due to the speed of the game. But in HD, you can see it. You don’t need the cartoonish Fox puck tracker to follow it. You don’t need to be a diehard fan to know what’s happening. It’s all fun again and people could get excited about it.
If the NHL were smart, it would look to blaze a new trail in sports. There are tons of HD network channels out there with not a lot of HD content. If you have HD cable, you can only watch the Discovery Channel show about migrating birds so many times. Mojo, Universal HD, the ESPNs, and others need more HD content, so the NHL should carve a new niche and go after the HD market. If there is a basketball game and a hockey game on at the same time, I watch the one that’s in HD, even more so if it is hockey. Why not make a big play for HD? It only makes sense to holySmith!, and if it makes sense to holySmith!, then it makes sense for the masses.