Monday, June 15, 2009


Now that the NBA and NHL postseasons have concluded (successfully for both leagues, according to Nielsen), a question and a thought:

First, is there such a thing as post-Finals depression? For years, we have heard about the post-Super Bowl depression once the victor raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It’s as if the entire country – let’s not say world, only North America and its expats care about the NFL – has to take a few billion Prozacs to get by until September. However, this has been a pretty good year; better yet, a great three-year stretch for both leagues.

The momentum has been building to the point that while you still have those complaining about the image problems of some NBA players, length of the seasons and the fighting on the ice, you’re hearing more about what goes on in the games themselves. The fact that people are starting to ask what are they going to watch until the NFL begins says so much about how the NBA (and in a smaller scale, the NHL) have wooed fans back over the last few years.

Secondly, now that baseball monopolizes the major league spotlight for the next twelve weeks, it will be interesting to see how the sport’s television partners fight for a lion’s share of the fans’ attention. It’s a little different this time around thanks to the arrival of MLB Network.

Unlike other league-operated channels, MLBN is available in far more homes because it is partially owned by several major cable carriers such as Time Warner and Comcast. With that wide availability, the channel is going head-to-head with ESPN’s national coverage, even though Nielsen does not track the channel just yet.

The channel has the bandwidth to shine the light on every team. ESPN does not and cannot focus on a handful of sports while TBS and FOX are focused on weekend and playoff broadcasts only instead of wrap-around pre- and post-game analysis.

While relying on social network and message board chatter may not be the best barometer of the network’s early success, it seems that many people are making the switch to the new guys/gals on the block. Yet, as the weather warms up and the intensity of the season grows, we’ll see how the network performs against the established broadcasters.


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