Posts Tagged 'ESPN'

Street & Smith’s Sports Business Awards

SBA09_webbanner5

NBC Sports, ESPN and IMG all took home multiple awards at the 2nd annual Sports Business Awards in New York City. (Complete awards list below.)

After its magnificent coverage of Beijing 2008, NBC Sports deservingly won Best in Sports Television, while NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol earned Sports Executive of the Year.

The Boston Celtics were awarded Professional Sports Team of the Year, topping fellow nominees the Chicago Blackhawks, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays. Much to the chagrin of good friend James Allan, the Pittsburgh (“Six-burgh”) Steelers weren’t nominated.

The rest of the award winners made sense to me, with the exception of Professional Sports League of the Year, which was presented to the NBA. This award should be given to the NFL every single year. After this spring’s repugnant, woeful and afflictive officiating in the NBA Playoffs, look for the Association to miss out on a nomination in 2010.

2009 Sports Business Award winners: 

Lifetime Achievement – Peter Ueberroth
Sports Executive of the Year – NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol
Athletic Director of the Year – Joe Castiglione, Univ. of Oklahoma
Professional Sports Team of the Year – Boston Celtics
Professional Sports League of the Year – NBA
Sports Event of the Year – Amp Energy NHL Winter Classic
Best in Sports Media – ESPN
Best in Sports Television – NBC Sports
Best in Digital Sports Media – ESPN Digital Media
Best in Talent Representation and Management – CAA Sports
Best in Corporate Consulting, Marketing and Client Services – IMG
Best in Property Consulting, Sales and Client Services – IMG
Sports Event Marketing Firm of the Year – GMR Marketing
Sports Sponsor of the Year – Coca-Cola
Sports Facility of the Year – Lucas Oil Stadium
Best in Sports Technology – MLB Advanced Media for MLB At Bat

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Why isn’t the NHL on ESPN?

The Worldwide Leader in Sports

The Worldwide Leader in Sports

There’s actually a pretty easy answer to the above question. The 2004-2005 lockout year, in which the NHL and NHL Players Association could not come to an agreement on the issue of an inflexible salary cap, destroyed the league’s credibility in the States. When the salary cap issue was resolved, the national television network with the most to offer the NHL was Versus, with NBC picking up high-profile games throughout the season.

In truth, that’s why the NHL isn’t on ESPN.

The more compelling question is… Why is the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee on ESPN? Better yet, why is the Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open (that’s a bowling tournament, folks) on ESPN? How on Earth is Bassmaster a mainstay on ESPN, while the NHL takes plays recluse on Versus?

Hockey should be on ESPN. Period.

Paradoxically, I happen to enjoy watching the aforementioned events, but that’s beside the point.

It’s hard to say exactly where the NHL fits in the League Hierarchy, but it can’t be lower than the Professional Bull Riders (another ESPN favorite), can it? I don’t even know how you would qualify which leagues are more ESPN-worthy, but I think it looks something like this:

  1. NFLThe King
  2. MLBAmerica’s Pastime
  3. NBACould jump MLB with all the young, marketable stars
  4. NASCARI will never understand this, but it makes loads of money
  5. PGAShould be in the top-5 as long as Tiger is around
  6. NHLEx-member of the Big Four, but is slowly turning itself around
  7. X-GamesESPN’s own. Hard to argue with its ESPN-worth
  8. Premier League soccerStill probably more popular than America’s league
  9. MLSPromises to resonate with Americans, but I doubt the numbers agree
  10. PBASadly, bowling is entrenched in ESPN culture

Both the lacrosse leagues (NLL, MLL) deserve to be somewhere on that list, but I don’t know which is more popular. I would also probably find a place for the WNBA, but they are folding. However you see it, it’s hard to argue with the top six on that list. Oh, and for those of you keeping score at home, the TWA – Turtle Wrestling Association – would be No. 14. (Keep reading…)

Colorado center Paul Stastny

Colorado center Paul Stastny

And now, with young superstars Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Zetterberg, and even Colorado’s Paul Stastny, the NHL is gaining some marketing momentum – but still no ESPN love.

According to ESPN spokesperson John Krulewitz, there are no immediate plans to bring the NHL to ESPN. More and more sportswriters are at least discussing the possibility, though, which is somewhat encouraging.

Even NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly understands what ESPN could do for the NHL. At the Sports Lawyers Association on May 16, Kelly spoke candidly about the difference in exposure between Versus and ESPN.

NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly

NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly

“It is not ESPN,” Kelly said. “It doesn’t have a sports highlight show. It doesn’t have a lot of properties people want to tune in to, unless you are a hunter or a fisherman or you like turtle wrestling.”

Ultimately, I think the NHL gets back on ESPN at some point. It has to, right? I’m not sure I want to live in a world where the WNBA gets more exposure than the NHL. Hockey is more HDTV-friendly, has incredibly loyal fans and boasts the second-most compelling rivalry (Ovechkin v. Crosby) in sports.

This just seems like such a no-brainer. So I ask you again…

Why isn’t the NHL on ESPN?