The NHL and NHLPA have come to a tentative agreement on a return to play as well as a new CBA. Only took a global pandemic for the two sides to find labor peace for several years. The return to play should be met with a ton of excitement for die hard fans, casual fans, and new fans alike. Live sports are coming back, and hopefully soon. It’s been 118 days since sports were cancelled on March 12. And when the NHL finally drops the puck on August first it’ll have been 142 days since we last saw live NHL action. Plus that action starts off with six games a day. Six games a day? Absolutely electric.
One giant flaw, maybe not for a lot of teams but certainly for the Colorado Avalanche, the play in round and round robin games will be played on local sports stations. Yes some will be on NBCSN, but that’s still being worked out.
The NHL is still working on U.S. broadcast plans for its 24-team postseason restart. The qualification and round-robin games will be shown locally on regional sports networks. Discussions are ongoing this week about how many of those games will be shown nationally on NBCSN. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Oilers Nation that the daily schedule will be “very much like the Olympic tournament, with three games a day and start times will be 12 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.” locally. Greg Wyshynski, ESPN
The Colorado Avalanche games are broadcasted on Altitude Sports. Back when the world was a bit simpler in August of 2019 Altitude was pulled from both Comcast and DirecTV due to contracts expiring. Meaning Avalanche fans couldn’t watch one of the best teams in hockey for the beginning of the year. After two months of disputing DirecTV and Altitude came to an agreement in November to continue carrying the sports station and Avalanche fans that have DirecTV only missed the first month of games. Comcast and Altitude still have not come to an agreement. So Avalanche fans that had and still have Comcast couldn’t watch a single game this season and might miss out on the Summer Playoffs as well if some Avalanche games aren’t broadcasted on NBCSN. Missing out on watching the first month of games due to a meaningless dispute in a year cut short is such a sad scenario. Especially when you think of the money everyone involved in the deal making process could have made during that time, and when the playoffs start. Sure no one knew the season was going to be cut short in August of 2019 but in hindsight it seems like a silly disagreement.
Back to the present. It looks like you’ll be watching your team on your local channel. After that how many games you watch on NBCSN is still up for debate within the NHL. Which, once again, seems silly. It’ll have been 142 days since anyone last watched hockey. Even considering restricting viewership seems completely asinine. Hockey fans and sports fans alike are desperate for any kind of live action. Hell I’ve been watching horse racing to get some kind of sports fix. You have to think football fans would totally want to watch the next most violent sport, especially if it was made readily available for them to watch. In all likelihood the NHL will have as many games as possible on the national channel. However with six games a day for the first round it’ll be damn near impossible for all six to be shown in their entirety on the national channel. Since every game can’t be watched on NBCSN the NHL has to put the most exciting games there. It’s the easiest way to bring in new fans and generate some money. Considering the round robin games don’t have quite the meaning the play in games do I would be very surprised to see an abundance of those games on NBCSN. Likely the round robin games will be on the local channels.
That is where the issue arises for Colorado Avalanche fans. The Avalanche were too good this year to need a play in round. The boys almost won the central with half the team injured. Now rather than give the second best team (based of winning percentage) in the Western Conference the second overall seed, the seeding will be determined by round robin play. Honestly, I still don’t know what that’ll look like. Will the round robin teams play each other once and whoever wins the most gets first seed? No clue. I do know that even if the Avalanche lost every game they play in the round robin (they won’t) they would still be in the playoffs. So the Avalanche won’t be playing in the more meaningful games right away. Likely resulting in their games being broadcasted on the local channel. The local channel that only one tv provider carries and that is DirecTV. I would imagine many die hard Avalanche fans dropped Comcast when DirecTV picked Altitude TV back up. Buuuut humans are stubborn creatures and you can bet just as many decided to stay with Comcast out of laziness, stubbornness, and hope that Comcast would pull their head out of their asses and bring back Altitude TV when the two best teams on the channel were tearing up their respective leagues.
Well that never happened. Comcast has kept their heads firmly planted in their own asses and still don’t cary Altitude TV. Comcast is the largest TV provider in Colorado. So saying a lot of sports fans still use the service isn’t a far reach. If even half of Avalanche fans are still using Comcast that’s a LOT of people that could miss out on games that they’ve been desperately craving. The biggest reason a new contract between the tv provider and the station hasn’t been reached is Comcast claims not enough of its customers use the Altitude TV channel. Comcast wants to offer Altitude TV on a tiered basis. Pay more money and you can watch sports on Comcast. Let’s just say when this argument was presented several months ago that it was true. Do you really think it will hold true now? You really think after 142 DAYS OF NO HOCKEY that Altitude TV wouldn’t be watched by most of Comcast customers. Not likely. You’re far more likely to see numbers sky rocket in terms of viewership. Comcast and Altitude TV need to hammer out a deal before playoffs start so Avalanche fans can watch hockey. Oh and Nuggets fans will want to watch Basketball too I guess.
There is still a chance that some of the round robin games are shown on NBCSN, and their is a chance some of those are the Avalanche games. Considering how much fun the Avalanche were to watch this year it’s not that big of a stretch to say at least one game will be nationally televised. But that’s not enough. I need to be able to watch every game the Avalanche play and ideally every single playoff game. No matter how it plays out for Avalanche fans at least they can look forward to watching the team play in the traditional playoff round after the play in series.