One of the most jarring aspects of the Stanley Cup finals, other than the ease with which the Red Wings dispatched the Penguins on Sunday night to push the series to 3-2, has been NBC’s hardball with fans in Detroit and Pittsburgh. For the duration of the playoffs, both teams have been able to hold massive viewing parties in and outside their arenas. It was such a wonderful, organic expression of the communal nature of fandom that it was basically destined to be ruined by business in short order.
And lo, in stepped NBC, stopping the broadcasts. As HOCKEYBUZZ.COM reported, initially, they blamed the NHL, despite the NHL’s assertion that that was quite not the case. Then came the truth, that it was a business decisions (all the crappy ones are), and their “business is ratings driven.” CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS has the, ahem, money quote:
A near-sellout of Joe Louis could shave a ratings point off the local television ratings measurement, and such ratings are used to establish advertising rates.
So to that, if the all-important ratings model can’t deal with 8-10 thousand people watching a show in one place on one screen, you know what? The ratings model is completely worthless. Seriously. How can NBC or Nielsen not figure out what to do with a giant honking party of some of the most hardcore fans all watching one screen? Is that really a deal-breaker?
And if so, if they’re really curious as to what the ratings would look like if everyone stays home, away from the shared community aspect from which most of the value of a ticket to a game is derived, there’s a really easy answer to all of this. You ready? Dick Ebersol, you taking notes?
All NBC has to do is announce that in exchange for showing the game outside both arenas, attending fans have to fill out a simple, anonymous survey about where they would otherwise watch a game (their place or someone else’s), with how many people, and whatever other information the network needs to most closely approximate what ratings would look like. Use that and Nielsen data to extrapolate what the final ratings would be with that many eyes on a TV, and adjust. That’s it. Easy.
This is a rare, rare opportunity for the NHL and NBC. At no other point are they ever going to be able to get this kind of a free pool of television watchers from whom they can mine valuable demographic information. Forcing them back into their homes and away from a group of thousands of like-minded, passionate fans for the sake of moving a needle one or two points does the city, fanbase, and team a disservice. It’s so easy to work around. Figure it out.
Speaking of soccer [I thought we were talking about hockey. No, I’m dead certain of it.–ed.] [Shut up.–AJ] [You have problems.–ed.], UEFA just got a seismic news flash as Real Madrid, evidently furious at having seen FC Barca take the title, has bought the contract of Kaka from AC Milan. Too bad UEFA contract holder SETANTA SPORTS probably won’t survive to see him in the new kit.
(This is where we mention Kaka’s wife and fine whatever you’re all perverts.)
Kaka, a sensational striker from the one-word-name factory that is Brazil, will reportedly command a 6-year, $94 million contract. That’s enough to make it the most expensive in soccer’s history, barely beating out Zinedine Zidane’s 6-year, $65 million deal with Juventus from eight years ago. Meanwhile, David Beckham is running around for a crappy MLS team in Los Angeles for 30 cents on the dollar and going home to a bag of antlers with oversized sunglasses and the “I’m married, but still vain” haircut straight from Jon & Kate + 8. Sic transit gloria mundi: Glory is fleeting.
We mentioned Andrew Thomas Gallo, the man accused of killing Angels rookie Nick Adenhart and two others in a drunk driving collision, yesterday. Gallo pled not guilty to murder, drunk driving, and fleeing the scene of an accident charges yesterday. Great.
But as we (rightfully) focus on the three people killed far before their time, we should point out that one passenger in Adenhart’s car, 24-year-old Jon Wilhite, has, in fact, survived the crash that left him in critical condition (via the RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE). Wait, that doesn’t appropriately convey the gravity of what happened. He survived internal decapitation.
As MANOLITH explains, internal decapitation, which is exactly as horrifying and life-threatening as it sounds, happens when the skull detaches from the spinal column. It’s usually fatal. Wilhite somehow survived without total paralysis, which is unbelievably rare, and he’s now in rehab with the help of several major leaguers. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s on the right track.
Since we need to get back on a higher note, here are some more links to consider while you’re riding in a cab with former Beach Boy Brian Wilson:
- WELCOME TO LOUD CITY makes the case: Nick Collison needs an afro. You absolutely cannot deny this.
- Headline win of the day: THE NATION’s How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Lakers. The article’s good too.
- NBC WASHINGTON wants to know, is Laron Landry even still alive?
- Steve Nash will report on the NBA Finals for David Letterman. Hey Steve… you got any gum?
- Thanks to the sports media’s ludicrous east coast bias, GASLAMP BALL is the only site to notice THE ONION’s satirical piece on NL home run leader Adrian Gonzalez’s anonymity doesn’t even have the right picture of him in an article about said east coast bias. Intentional? Maybe. It’s fitting either way.
- This is Dahntay Jones, Chris “Birdman” Andersen, Grant Hill, and Amar’e Stoudemire playing “The Team Mating Game” on JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE. Big ups to BALL DON’T LIE for finding the video, and yes, you are watching this with rapt attention. Don’t lie and say you’re not; yes, you are.
- David Ortiz’s stupid excuse to blame his eyes on his slump didn’t work; they’re fine. Is Rafael Nadal going down the same road with his knees?
- John Daly can’t qualify for the US Open. Well then, how “open” is it, jackbags? FREE JOHN DALY!
- The DALLAS MORNING NEWS says the Texas Rangers will be without the services of 2008 Home Run Derby darling Josh Hamilton for 4-6 weeks following surgery for a partial tear in his abdominal muscles. We really, really don’t recommend getting him on Vicodin.
- The Twins’ Justin Morneau is the polar opposite of a good blogger, says MOUTHPIECE SPORTS.
- And finally, the Oakland Raiders have spent a metric buttload of high-level draft picks on skill players, but is their best move in the return to relevance the signing of 16-year free agent fullback Lorenzo Neal? FANTASYPROS911.COM thinks so.