BBC’s Olympic Hockey Coverage (final musings)

The best every Winter Olympic games coverage wise by the BBC, has come to a  close with the last gold medal having been presented to the Canadian Men’s hockey team.

With three BBC’s channels and online streams available, this was a real step-up by the corporation to show a games which is far less popular in the UK than it’s summer counterpart.

I still had many reservations about the coverage however, especially how hockey was treated and I’ve been called out about my opinion by several people throughout the entirety of the games, including today. Social media isn’t really set up put across my opinion and points of view eloquently enough, so hence my writing this article to follow up my previous post.

Firstly I will say this. The BBC has to show GB athletes if they are competing, on the main channel. There are no if’s or but’s to that, especially when you consider they took just 56 athletes as far as I’m aware. Not that it has to be, but their coverage of GB athletes was justified as many exceeded expectations and four medals was an exceptional final haul.

What I do take exception to is the amount of times either one or two of the red button channels were showing exactly the same coverage as the main channel, or broadcasting absolutely nothing as was the case yesterday afternoon.
It may not have been a classic Bronze medal hockey game yesterday but surely showing live sport, even without commentary, is a better option than broadcasting absolutely nothing?
I could not have imagined the BBC not broadcasting the Curling Bronze medal game on television regardless of who was competing.
This was not an isolated incident either as many times during the Winter Olympics the BBC decided to show replay’s or duplicate coverage rather than broadcast live events.

Hockey has seemed to have been given a raw deal at times in the BBC TV coverage rota and it’s hard to work out why. The games broadcast for the most part have been enthralling encounters. Plenty of upsets and drama including the Russia-USA game which had it all. This has been the case with the knockout games as well with Latvia making their way to the quarter finals and making Canada work hard.
The Women’s hockey has also given the new and old fan plenty to enjoy, despite the final dominance of the USA and Canada once more.
So again I ask, why show duplicate or zero coverage on a channel when there is hockey or other live events occurring at that time?

Fifteen disciplines in seven sports were contested and these included:
Alpine skiing, Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Cross-country skiing, Curling, Figure skating, Freestyle skiing, Ice hockey, Luge, Nordic combined, Short track speed skating, Skeleton, Ski jumping, Snowboarding and Speed skating.

Hockey in the United Kingdom is a minority sport I agree.
I don’t have the statistics to hand nor do I have the knowledge of where to find them but I’d bet a few pound coins that the numbers show that hockey is not a minority sport in the UK when compared to those disciplines listed above.
A total of 5705 fans paid money to watch EIHL last (Saturday) evening to watch Belfast v Nottingham play in the EIHL at the National Ice Centre, Nottingham. (That number compares favourably to average crowds in Football’s League One/Third Tier)
According to the IIHF, a total of 6,798 people combined play ice hockey in the UK.
Again I do not expect hockey to receive special treatment over other sports but surely the BBC must realise there is a captive audience who would love to receive a more complete coverage of the sport they love at the top level.

This isn’t a “hate the BBC” article. I applaud them for the extra channels and for the extra streams online they provided. Although for me personally the streams were poor when I tried to use them.

The hockey coverage the BBC did provide improved as the tournament went on and the job they did today in covering the men’s final was as good as anyone could expect.
The build up, interviews with coaches and players, showing highlights during the intermissions and then the long interview with Canada’s hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser was fantastic.
The final commentary itself was also much better, and I’ve not really been a fan of it for the most part.
That and the Women’s final were the pinnacle of the coverage and does show what the BBC is capable of when they get around to covering the games.

I fully appreciate that for hockey to get the full recognition it deserves, that GB would have to have a team competing. That is sad reality for a sport which has given so much joy and excitement during these games .



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