The Ducks have officially announced the television schedule for the 2009-10 season. It unfortunately includes fewer games this year than last. Sixty-nine of the team’s 82 games will be broadcast, down from 73 last year, and none of them will be national telecasts.
Is this the reward the Ducks get for beating the Sharks and almost doing the same to the Red Wings in last season’s playoffs? The Ducks organization has done all the right things since the lockout to become one of the consistently elite teams in the NHL, and we’ve still never had 90% of our games telecast. But since I’m so obsessed with watching these non-broadcasted games anyway I’ve found alternatives online (for those of us without the NHL package, that is). Stay tuned for information on which websites to use.
It’s not all bad news, though. Fifty of those games will be broadcast in high definition, which is a very pleasant surprise for fans. Well, it will be a pleasant surprise as long as long as they stick with the traditional “broadcast” view rather than the horrendously produced “rinkside view.” For those fortunate enough to miss games in which the “rinkside view” was used, consider yourselves extremely lucky that you didn’t have to feel the frustration of the fans who did watch.
The “rinkside view” was described as being a “hyper-local…viewing experience,” whatever that means, in which several cameras are placed on top of the glass and handheld cameras used in the corners. Additional microphones were also placed around the rink in order to hear the “sounds of the game.” Sounds like a great idea, right? Sure, if they actually were able to catch up to the puck. Because many of the cameras were controlled remotely, cameras were slow to reach the play. In addition, fans watching from home were unable to see the entire play develop as the angles cut off much of the rink. The traditional “broadcast” view allows a view of about two-thirds of the rink, enough to know when Scott Niedermayer is catching up to Anze Kopitar on a breakaway. The “rinkside view,” on the other hand, wouldn’t show Niedermayer until he actually lifted the stick of Kopitar, thereby robbing the audience of the thrill of wondering whether Niedermayer will catch up or not.
There were a few positives. The new microphones allowed us to hear some of the bone-crunching checks and smack-talk between players. I was particularly a fan of the behind-the-net-cam view of power plays because it showed the traffic the goalie faces when a shot is released from the point. But even with these two positives the “rinkside view” was a disaster and should not be used again. If they do decide to use it, Fox should at least give the fans the option of watching a standard view on another channel. I bet so many would watch the standard broadcast that they’d cancel the new version anyway.
Besides the increase in HD games, the final 20 games will be telecast. This is significant because most playoff jockeying occurs during the last quarter of the season, and the intensity of the games pick up. Ducks fans know this well as it seemed the Ducks were playing playoff games the last third of the 2008-09 regular season.
We won’t be missing too much anyway with games not being televised. A couple of Calgary and Dallas games, a few Phoenix games, and a Vancouver game are the most obvious omissions, but we’ll still have opportunities to see those teams play as the Ducks play each Western Conference team at least four times.
For the official announcement and broadcast schedule, click here.