Monday, January 11, 2010

History of Hockey and Media and the Tangential Relationship to the Avs Attendance Woes

Terry Frei on the Avs attendance woes:

“One of the secondary reasons always gets overlooked: By founding its own cable network and in theory reaping the revenue benefits from having every game on home television in an era of HDTV, the Kroenke enterprises are their own competition, more than ever.” From Terry Frei's blog.
Dater has beaten this ‘every game on HDTV’ dead horse a lot as well.

Let’s take a little trip in the Wayback Machine Sherman!

For the best time travel effect you should spin your monitor around and around REALLY fast, ‘cause I’m too lazy to find you a graphic…

Ok, we are back in the earliest years of organized hockey, pre-NHL and we will work our way back to the present.

In the early 1900’s the Ottawa Silver Seven successfully defended the Cup year after year. In 1904 the Toronto Marlboros challenged for the Cup and it was arranged that a steam whistle in Toronto would inform the fans of the results of the big game. Three toots meant victory for the Marlboros and two, defeat. Well, well, doesn’t that sound quaint? Let's shut down the Altitude network and hire a steam whistle. Think that will improve attendance at the Can?

Look at this excerpt from The Complete Encyclopedia of Ice Hockey by Hollander & Bock.
December 22, 1928, was the first NHL radio broadcast of a Montréal game. Arthur Dupont of radio station CJAD did the French broadcast and columnist Elmer Ferguson did the English. “The hockey people of that era looked upon radio with a great deal of suspicion,” recalls Dupont. “They feared that if stories of the games came into the home without cost, it would ruin the attendance. So we were limited to a brief description of the third period and afterwards a summary of the entire game.”
As it developed, of course, broadcasts increased hockey interest and now the radio-television industry plays a major role in the sport.

I edited it a little and added the italics.

In 1933 a network of radio stations started broadcasting Toronto and Montréal hockey games on Saturday nights; this was the forerunner of Hockey Night in Canada. Eventually this lead to the televised Saturday night games. But why only one game a week? Same philosophy that was sited by Dupont.

Look at the Blackhawks and their long-time stand against broadcasting home games that weren’t sold out. Didn’t help that team’s woes one bit.

So why can’t we forget about this ridiculous reasoning? Why can’t we learn from previous experience? People that watch games on TV are still being exposed to the advertisers, and sporting events are one of the last places in the world of television that DVR’s haven’t degraded advertising effectiveness. For the most part people want to watch them live and therefore aren’t fast forwarding through the commercials.

People watching on TV are still buying gear, building a bond with the team they love. And as always, the bandwagon crowd will be around, but not if they can’t find the team on TV.

As for being his own competition, that’s just wrong. KSE makes money either way, its win-win-win: KSE makes money when people buy tickets KSE makes money when people watch the network and KSE makes money when people do both.

So I have to point of here that KSE is doing it up right when it comes to Altitude. Showing every game in HD is great! The Altitude personalities are top notch as well. I have zero complaints.

So while Dater and Frei DO site tickets prices as the biggest issue relating to attendance. I really think they are giving Altitude too much blame.

I'd like to hear from some Denverites. If there were less games on TV or less games in HD would YOU go to more games? Would you BUY more tickets?

-From the Point


  1. You know what's ruining the Avs attendance? The HORRIBLE in-game entertainment. A long time ago, the PA, the jumbotron, the contests, the intermission shows, etc. were all fun and made going to an Avs game MORE than an Avs game. By skimping on the rest of the arena experience, going to the Pepsi Center is no better than an Altitude broadcast. Yes, seeing a game live is an amazing experience, but there's plenty of downtime between whistles that the team is just wasting.

  2. And skimping they are! I have it from a good source that there wasn't even a budget for a lot of the promo stuff that was being done.
    And since when is spending 10 minutes scanning the crowd for dancing kids considered entertaining?
    Good point Grant.