Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Eastern Migration

(Cross posted at No Pun Intended!)

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/ie 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) game I 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 in which the teams are already set (one other is still 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?)


KMS2 said...

It does bug me that most of the games involve EC teams, but only because that means I miss them since they start at 4:30 pm my time. Two seasons ago I really was looking forward to Pens and Caps games because I wanted to see what all the hype was about Sid and Ovie...but that's died down. It makes me wonder how they decide which games to broadcast. Is it whatever the "analysts" think people want to see, what they want to talk about, or is there actually some hard evidence (surveys, emails, feedback, etc) from the hockey fans that help determine the TV schedule.

Earl Sleek said...

I got center ice, so generally it's not that big a deal. Versus can show whatever they want; I'll watch when it's interesting.

But black out the Ducks? While they're slumping? Grrrrrrr....

Schnookie said...

I really think this has more to do with demographics than any kind of specific slant or bias -- the fact is that more people live in the Eastern time zones than do in the West. So games shown in the East Coast's prime time will reach more viewers than those shown in Pacific prime time.

It also happens that we're in a cycle of the biggest names in the league being players in the Eastern Conference, but if you go back 5-10 years, the big stories and big stars were all in the West (the "Big Three" of Detroit, Colorado and Dallas). Back in the late '90s, if you were an Eastern Conference team that wasn't the Rangers, you weren't going to get any national coverage.

Steph said...

It seems like terrible marketing for them to favor one conference over the other (as much as I'd loooove to sit here and whine that they hate my conference and it's so not fair whine whine bitch bitch, I hardly doubt Versus is even considering anything beyond what fits into what available time slot and hardly cares that they're single handedly ruining hockey by showing all these eastern games - kidding, totally kidding) so my assumption would be that it would have more to do with something like what Schnookie said - but I didn't even consider was the time zone thing. That makes a whole lot of sense!

Jordi said...

Inter Conference/Division matches apparently rarely end in OTs. I know that's not personally the case (and I can't explain why - the thing just told me) but that could be a factor in scheduling their games. And yeah, the names are in the East.

Tracy said...

What can I say?? We have to make money somehow and no one buys tickets to strictly see us... lol. Besides, I haven't really heard people complain, even with the price hike, our tix are still cheaper than seeing the Wings at home*, and a lot easier to come by.*

*Or at least they were the last time I checked up on those types of things.

HG said...

I know that for me growing up, the early game on HNIC was usually an EC game with a WC on next. The time zones do make a difference because you hear about all the games. Even though I've been in the East for a few years now, I still know more about Western teams. Or do I? In my mind, there is just one league. Or something. The only time I will panic is if (when) the Flames meet the Sens in the Cup final. Hee heeee....

Cat said...

I can understand why there are so many Pittsburgh games being shown (after all, Sidney Crosby is like ZOMG!NEXT!BIG!THING!), but seriously, Versus? Plz 2 b showing more Western conference?