So the NHL is back from the lockout. Great news for fans, those who work in the NHL and businesses of every size who benefit from it’s existence.
Since it’s return I’ve read a lot of half-truths, blatant lies and witnessed some frankly irrational behaviour on social networking sites, regarding the revamped NHL coverage in the UK.
Despite promising myself that I wouldn’t get involved again with this issue, I feel like I need to set the record straight on a few things.
Back on July 5th 2012 I wrote this article “UK NHL coverage secured for 4 years” http://wp.me/p2gDti-1W which very briefly summarised the new four-year deal signed by Premier Sports.
I had my suspicions back then that there might be complications regarding the coverage but with no evidence to back them up, there seemed little point in scare-mongering when I could easily have been wrong.
My suspicions were that the deal signed would include games shown on PS would be blacked out on NHL Game Centre Live and this has proven to be true.
Despite NHL customer support saying otherwise, all regular season games shown on PS are blacked out for UK subscribers of GCL. I’ve spoken to one individual from the NHL customer support who didn’t even know PS existed, so I wasn’t too shocked about this false information given to UK fans.
PS have now come clean regarding the extent of the deal signed with the NHL via AMI/Medge. The Q & A section on their website boils down to the hard facts.
I’ve screenshot and compiled the section as an image below.
I have no issue with PS in this regard. They are entitled to sign a deal where they have a Unique Selling Point. What business worth it’s salt doesn’t sign a deal or sell something that has a USP?
PS isn’t a hockey channel and I know some of you are annoyed at the monthly cost but I’m not sure what you honestly expect. The cost was never going to compete with GCL, whatever the length of the season.
However it is disappointing that PS still hasn’t come anywhere close to having a HD channel and then there is the Virgin Media issue. PS are still not with VM on any package and therefore PS are not available across the UK which brings me to the most important issue.The NHL blacks out games in Canada and America to encourage fans to watch live rather than take in the game on TV. I don’t fully understand how the blackout is enforced in North America and therefore I’m a little clueless as to the regulations outside of the continent.
In saying that how can it be right, let alone legal to allow a stand alone channel to broadcast the NHL in this country when said channel is not available on every platform? According to Wikipedia, VM had almost 4 million TV subscribers by the end of 2010.
It’s a fair assumption to make that those subscribers would not have Sky TV as well and therefore no access to PS.
The question’s I would love answered are as follows.
Firstly does the NHL know PS are not a National Broadcaster?
Secondly is the blackout illegal if the coverage is held by a non National Broadcaster?
For those with NHL GCL and not PS, the bigger issue will be when the play-offs come around. It looks as if most of the games will be blacked out live including the Stanley Cup Final itself.
If this is true then what a catastrophic move by the NHL. Almost forcing those who can’t/won’t watch PS to watch other streams the NHL won’t benefit from.
I’ve never been one to advocate the use of streams online that aren’t official. However I’m sure a lot of you know the ways and means of getting around the obstacles the NHL have yet again placed in the way of UK hockey fans.
Yet again I’m left dumbfounded and frustrated by the NHL and its partner in crime Ami/Medge.