Congratulations are in order. Recently, Hockey East has won 3 national championships in a row, has put dozens of alumni into the NHL, and even more into the AHL, ECHL, and European Leagues. Most recently, you’ve added Notre Dame as a future member, and have been able to sign a deal with the NBC Sports Network that will broadcast the Hockey East Tournament nationally, as well as broadcast some individual games. This, in addition to the deals already made with CBS Sports and NESN, combined with the deals many teams sign individually, mean that an incredible number of Hockey East games are broadcast on television. Despite these impressive achievements, I have a two modest proposals for improvement:
1. Work further to expand television coverage, and do so for ALL teams, not just a few. Soon we will have 3 deals: NESN, CBS Sports, and NBC Sports. While it’s pretty obvious they want a few prime games (BC vs BU, UNH vs Maine, Vermont games for some reason), there’s not a ton of them, and there’s no reason why we can’t tell networks “if you want to cover the BC-BU series, you also have to show some non-marquee games”. This really shouldn’t be too hard. There aren’t a ton of top games, and with other networks competing for the same stuff, Hockey East should be able to get deals that broadcast all teams often.
Secondly, work to expand what we have and add on new deals. CSN covers pretty much only basketball. Considering the relative cheapness of broadcasting a game ($15,000), it really shouldn’t be hard to recoup that money for CSN, especially when they have no other real sports broadcasting with the NBA locked out. I’m sure Hockey East can arrange a deal to broadcast 5, 10, or even 15 games for a year with CSN. Consider it a test run. If CSN can show the games and make enough money, maybe they’ll make a deal next year and keep showing games, thus giving Hockey East another network and more tv games.
2. Have all Hockey East teams broadcast the games online, for free. Vermont and Northeastern already do this, and I know Northeastern at least saw a surge in traffic once it was free. Northeastern now draws in several hundred viewers for every game, far more than they ever got before. Even for teams that charge for it, the amount of money they make is rather minuscule. I’d be willing to bet if they showed ads during breaks in the game they could make it just as profitable. This really shouldn’t be hard, most teams have broadcasts already, and those that don’t have cameras and film the games anyway. Putting all games online for free would allows fans to watch games (I for one would definitely watch streams if I could), and help expand our footprint. Once all teams can broadcast, there should also be a push to make everything in HD, improving angles and cameras, and other small advancements that will make viewing better.
These are just 2 ideas, no doubt there are other ways to improve the league. Feel free to comment and share any other thoughts.