24 October 2007

Eastern Migration

I bumped into this post over at Battle of California earlier today and it got me thinking. Despite that whole growing up with the Leafs thing, I consider myself very much a Western Conference fan first and foremost - that isn't to say I don't care at all about the East, but I certainly would have been just as miffed if this had happened to, say, a Wings game because VS wanted me to see no one but the Penguins (no offense, Elly/ies and Teka!) during the two and a half hours they were playing.

The same thing happened earlier in the year when a Wings/Ducks game going to a shootout resulted in the first seven or eight minutes of the following Dallas game not being shown, so the "VS has a stupid crappy EC bias" argument doesn't really hold up, but it still left me curious about the VS schedule in general.

Last season, which was before I moved past the stone age and found myself the joys of Centre Ice, it felt like every non-Wings (and therefore televised by VS) gameI watched was an EC match-up. I lost track of how many times I saw the Pens and the Capitals go at it again, but I chalked it up to my bias rearing its ugly head and not VS'. Still, I was prompted to go look up just what the numbers were, and there results were interesting.

Over the course of the season, VS' current schedule lists 56 NHL games of which the teams are already set (and one other TBA). Of these:

  • 34 are EC match-ups
  • 19 are WC match-ups
  • 3 involve one team from each conference (Pittsburgh/Minnesota, Detroit/Montreal, and Carolina/Nashville).
Separated by number of times each team is featured on the network the numbers look like this (color coded by conference):
  • 9 times: Pittsburgh
  • 8 times: Colorado, Philadelphia
  • 7 times: Buffalo, Detroit, NY Rangers
  • 6 times: Boston
  • 5 times: Carolina, Montreal, NY Islanders
  • 4 times: Atlanta, Dallas, Washington
  • 3 times: Anaheim, Minnesota, New Jersey, St. Louis, Toronto
  • 2 times: Chicago, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Vancouver
  • 1 time: Calgary, Columbus, Edmonton, Florida, LA, Nashville, Ottawa, Phoenix
Looks a little skewed, no? And annoyingly so, to me, obviously - is the East really that much a monopoly on the interest of hockey fans right now? Thank god for Center Ice (without which I, like most US hockey fans, would be stuck with only my local Wings broadcast and VS) or I'd be one seriously cranky hockey fan right now.

(And you know, I understand Detroit being so high up there, considering the turn out the Wings get in arenas across the country has led to things like the Coyotes jacking up prices when we're in town, but...Colorado? Really?)


Anonymous said...

Interesting article. I do agree it looks as is VS has an EC bias, but instead of looking at EC/WC differences, look at it as Big/Small market teams. All the teams featured the most have the largest markets and draw the largest viewing audiences. Those in the middle are mid-market teams and those at the bottom are all the small-markets. It makes pure economical sense both to VS and the NHL to have this type of setup. VS wants the ratings and the NHL wants to put their most marketable teams on display in an effort to draw more fans to the sport (aka. product). And lastly, if you really want to have a geographical bias, check out the North/South differences. Other than Toronto and Ottowa skewing the figures, the number of broadcasts gets lower as the teams drift farther south...

Teebz said...

It's cheaper for them to show Eastern Conference games because there is less travel involved with the cities being relatively closer than, say, Nashville and Los Angeles.

Versus isn't made of money... and it shows through their broadcasts. ;o)

Steph said...

One of the girls at HLOG pointed out the other big asset of the EC being the time zones - those of us out there are probably less likely to tune in to the often 10 pm or so WC games. A good point! (Teebz, I wouldn't have thought about the cost of sending production teams over either - another good explanation. Hey at least they're broadcasting consistently from the same side of the ice this season, eh?)

Just to clarify (not that anyone's accusing me from what I've been reading :) ), I'm not all up in arms over VS showing so many EC games - I get the feeling VS doesn't really have a preference but is going with what makes more sense for them for whatever reason. All these things people have been pointing out are really interesting and a lot of things I wouldn't have considered - now I'm curious about this North/South thing as well.