Monday, April 20, 2009

Flash Backtime: Skating For Ratings

A couple of Backtime followers pointed out that there were two hockey posts on this site in the past week, and neither was written by me. So I was asked to write something on hockey.

I'll take a rain check on that - let me watch at least one Stanley Cup Playoff game in its entirety before I give my perspective. But I had posted a hockey blog on another forum and I don't mind dusting it off 10 months later.

We'll Flash-Backtime to the end of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals. Detroit had just defeated Pittsburgh in Game 6.

June 5, 2008

Well another hockey season is on ice. Did anyone notice? Lord Stanley's Cup went to the Detroit Red Wings in an action-packed, thrilling final series. But who watched?

I did. But I have to admit the first hockey I'd watched this season was after the calendar had already been turned to June. I'd missed an entire season and two months of playoffs.

But the play was so compelling. The passes were crisp, the hits were jolting, and the venues in Pittsburgh and Detroit were absolutely manic.

Which leads me to think that hockey is pretty good entertainment, even if most of the season lacks the stakes of a Stanley Cup. So why have dwindling TV ratings made this professional sport so marginal?

I don't know. But it is obviously time for a change in coverage. It is time to disregard the sentimentality of hockey "purists" and completely re-vamp the way the game is televised. You don't have HD or a wide-screen? Too bad.

The TV of the future is here and hockey should be the first sport to gamble and make a regular game into a visual event. Here's how:

Envision a horizontal line across the middle of your screen. Use the bottom half for traditional end-to-end TV coverage. Slice the top part into thirds, showing tight shots of the stars, ice-level action, benches, and crowd - And just keep cutting.

Some would argue that this would be sensory overload, but I don't think anyone would find it boring.

If hockey is going to make a comeback into the national consciousness, it probably doesn't need more scoring on the ice as much as higher scores in the Nielsen ratings.

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