ESPN receives a lot of criticism for their coverage of the NHL as many believe that SportsCenter gives preferential coverage to leagues that have partnerships with the network.However, in an interview with Richard Deitsch of SI.com, ESPN president John Skipper defended the network’s coverage claiming that little has changed since ESPN stopped broadcasting NHL games…
“Look, I don’t think [the criticism is] fair…I see SportsCenter every day and we cover hockey every day. We do not have a significant differential between highlights of hockey now and when we had it.”
Of course, there is a huge difference between showing a few minutes of highlights and actually covering the sport. Skipper claims that the only difference is that without the broadcasting rights, SportsCenter can’t go to the commentators covering the games.
But that doesn’t explain ESPN’s lack of coverage of the NHL lockout, something that wouldn’t require broadcasting rights.
In a recent series for Deadspin.com, Patrick Burns calculated how much time the 11 p.m. SportsCenter spent covering each sport. And from the start of the NHL lockout in September, through the end of the year, SportsCenter spent a grand total of 12 minutes talking about the NHL.
And last April, during two important days during the playoffs, the NHL still ranked well behind the coverage of the other major sports on SportsCenter.
Some of the criticism of ESPN is unwarranted. They are still a business that is trying to make money and have an obligation to their advertising partners to maximise their ratings and promote their own products. But ESPN is not helping their own case by misrepresenting what is actually going on.
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