Last week, the NHL's cable television partner bailed from the epic ending of the Carolina-New Jersey game so we could listen to their people drone on about a game that hadn't started yet. To make matters worse, they were back at it again Tuesday, as two epic Game 7s were contested in the Eastern Conference.
Surely, no one had a problem with Versus deciding to air the Rangers-Capitals game. We're not stupid out here. We know that this stuff is driven by ratings, and we get that the Rangers and Capitals will likely draw the network a bigger number than the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils would.
That said, we do expect Versus to keep their word.
Two best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinals culminate in a best-of-one Tuesday night when the Washington Capitals host the New York Rangers (7 p.m., ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS) and the New Jersey Devils entertain the Carolina Hurricanes (7:30 p.m., VERSUS joined in progress, TSN2, RIS) in series-deciding Game 7s.At the risk of boring you with details of my life, I have NHL Center Ice at home. Due to an emergency, I couldn't be at home Tuesday night, but did have access to a television. We were able to watch the end of the Rangers-Capitals game on Versus, and then fully expected to see the end of the close, down-to-the-wire Carolina-New Jersey game.
Needless to say, since I expected to see the end of that game, I was quite surprised when it never happened. Instead, Versus viewers were treated to a chat about the Ducks-Sharks series, John Tortorella's postgame press conference, and eventually a package of highlights about the Carolina-New Jersey game, but only once it ended.
Perhaps I've confused the term "joined in progress" with something else. Last time I checked, when a network said they were going to join a game in progress, it actually meant that they would show the conclusion of the game in question.
In Versus' case, it apparently means "show a couple highlights of the game while it's going on, then run more complete highlights when the game dramatically ends".
According to Katie Bradshaw of Versus, this was the best they could do.
As the exclusive cable television home of the NHL in the U.S. VERSUS strives to give hockey fans the most complete coverage of the NHL postseason and that is made possible by using various network's playoff coverage. Throughout the first round VERSUS aired two and sometimes three games each night. Game seven in the Devils/Hurricanes series was an unfortunate situation where a deal couldn't get worked out to air another network's coverage featuring the remainder of the game upon VERSUS' completion of the Rangers/Capitals game.Naturally, this makes one wonder why exactly Versus was billed as joining the game in progress when they had no means by which to air the game live.
However, VERSUS aired a live look-in of the Devils/Hurricanes game during the network's studio show, Hockey Central. For live look-ins, due to regulations, VERSUS cannot air more than two minutes of live game action nor can the network air the last two minutes of the game or overtime coverage. The network also extended its Hockey Central telecast to show Devils/Hurricanes highlights after they happened so that hockey fans were able to see the amazing finish to the Devils/Hurricanes game.
It also makes me wonder why Versus would have to work out a deal to beam this particular game nationally. Exactly what harm is it to a local broadcaster if their coverage of a great game is aired nationally?
In the end, it's another situation where hockey fans lose. In this case, Versus needed to be more careful about the promises they were making to those fans.