An open letter to the NHL, Medge Consulting and AMI Partners

Posted: September 26, 2011 in hockey, ice hockey, Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dear Medge Consulting, AMI Partners and the NHL

 

I, like many of my peers in Europe are anxiously waiting for the new NHL season to begin. I’ve missed the long sleepless, Friday and Saturday nights that I’ve spent in front of my TV, watching the coolest game on earth. At the time of writing this, there are ten days to go till the puck drops for the 2011-2012 regular season. I would normally write how excited I am of this time of the year, but now I’m nothing but confused, concerned and angry.

 

However, like you may have guessed the current situation with the NHL broadcasting rights has left myself, and many others confused. I can understand that there are many broadcasters that you are speaking to, but seeing as the season is drawing closer, it is looking less and less likely that we will have the games on TV here in Europe. (I sincerely hope that this is not the case).

 

I know NHL is trying to push the sport here in Europe, but the current situation is doing little to help the leagues visibility on the ‘old-continent’. There is a huge number of fans that are tuning in to watch the games night in night out and many have subscribed to channels such as ESPN America or equivalent depending on their respective region.

 

What really annoys me, and I’m sure many of the fans in Europe, is that there seems to be a visible disconnect between the rights holders, the NHL and the fans. As many of us fans have had subscriptions to paid for channels, we have gone and cancelled our subscriptions, because a) the broadcaster cannot comment, b) the NHL is not commenting and c) Medge Consulting/AMI Partners have done little except issued a press release about the acquisition of the rights. How difficult is it to give some sort of guidance on the situation. The few articles I’ve read have Medge saying the “chances of having NHL on the TV in Europe is 100%”, and broadcasters saying that “at the moment I don’t think it is viable.” You can obviously see where the confusion comes from, can’t you.

 

I know there have been rumours of making the Game Centre Live available to Europe, but I ask you NHL, is this the right way forward? I know that we live in a digital age, where the internet presents countless opportunities. Call me old-school, but I sure like to watch my sports on my TV, in High-Definition without having to rely on internet connectivity.

 

Further to the point, if you really are looking to push the sport in Europe, please remember that not all countries are developed to the point that they could afford 20Mbps connections at every house. Heck, I’m lucky to get a 1Mbps connection and none of the providers can do much better. Am I to assume that I’m going to have to watch games, from game centre, with grainy image quality and with a connection that cuts out every 5 seconds? Hardly the experience one would want from the game of hockey. What about the price for the Game Centre then? In the past I have paid £10 for ESPN America per month and looking at the Game Centre prices for the USA, it does not look that attractive. Do you really want to start having fans flock to ‘illegal’ streaming links? At the moment it would seem that we have no other option.

 

Rather ironically, the games in Europe have sold tens of thousands of tickets, but you are losing out on a FAR GREATER audience by not having an agreement in place. I do actually sympathise with ESPN America as they have been backed into a corner and have undoubtedly lost a huge amount of revenue due to the loss of the games as many fans have cancelled their subscriptions to the channel. Surely this situation is not ideal.

 

Many of the articles I have read about the rights, quote broadcasters saying that the price Medge Consulting and AMI Partners have on the games is so extortionate that it makes little business sense to take on the games. The NHL has said on many occasions that it wants to expand the visibility and the league in the Europe, but I can’t help but wonder that the old adage of ‘money talks and BS walks’ is the true motive behind the sale of the rights.

 

This really isn’t the way to push a sport further into Europe and keep avid fans in tune with the best sports league in the world. At the moment, even the KHL looks like a more competent league in terms of broadcasting than the NHL does. Whatever the outcome of this mess is, I fear that the NHL has shot itself in the foot BIG TIME for the next five years.

 

I’d like to think that I’ve highlighted some of the feelings of the fans in Europe regarding the broadcasting rights.

 

Regards

 

Janne Virtanen

Comments
  1. Rebecca Hindle says:

    I completely agree was going to sigh up for ESPN AMERICA in UK this year. Guess I won’t if it’s not on very angry.
    The only reason i haven’t got ESPN is cause I needed another card other than the visa electronic. Watched the final last season online for free on my netbook in really good quality why would I want to pay.

  2. Paul Wheeler says:

    This is one you can definitely have as a retweet. Summed European fans’ feelings up perfectly, I think…

  3. Adam maggs says:

    F’king ah men. I’m tired of this & just want an answer. I’m cancelling ESPNA & watching games on alternative, cheaper, streams if the NHL go the online route.

    Brilliant post

    • nixon says:

      you make a big mistake because espn america has in the schedule 200 games from nhl this year

      • nixon says:

        what i told you that espn america will have in the schedule nhl.you must to have faith in hockey’s god and in espn intelligence THANK YOU ESPN AMERICA WE TRUST THAT YOU NEVER LET US IN DARK HERE IN EUROPE

  4. FB says:

    Absolutely right! Did you really write this to the NHL etc?
    If Yes post the Response! Looking forward to it!

  5. Completely agree the only reason I have Sky TV is for ESPN America without NHL I won’t be subscribing

  6. Cracking letter Jenne!!!,I think it sums up the feelings of the Majority of fans who have spent the summer in termoil and I doubt you will but hope this does get a response :)

    @ Nixon!!!!,I do not know where you got your info but The Nhl tab has been removed from the espn america website,espn player………the same thing!!! so as of 2345 uk time on the 27/9/2011 they have no comment to make.illegal sites here we come!!!

  7. FB says:

    Finally its possible for europeans to sign up on GameCenterLive…! Fortunately a happy ending…

  8. Awesome news about GCL but for those of us in the dark ages with low Broadband connection speeds its a non starter,I’m not paying £101.00 for something that will not enhance my viewing pleasure,I have to sit and wait and hope a TV deal is done intime for the Canucks V Pen’s opener or I will grin and bear and illegal feed I can find,if its free I can’t moan lol.

  9. Donald King says:

    Trying to keep on watching NHL in Britain is infuriating. (You’d think we were asking for hard-core porn!) I started watching on Channel 5 – I remember Ron McLean & Gary Bettman congratulating Russell Chamberlain for his work on promoting the NHL in this country. Then, without a word of explanation or apology, 5 scrapped NHL and their other American sports. So I switched to ESPN – and now that’s vanished too! The NHL are certainly going the WRONG way about popularising the game in Europe. I simply cannot be bothered to fiddle about with dodgy websites. If ESPN can’t get their act together with the NHL and Medge Consulting, perhaps Sky will? Watching NHL on the Internet just isn’t good enough. I couldn’t care less what provider it’s on, I just want to watch it!

  10. Great letter. Totally agree. My only consolation is that I feel less alone now. Thanks guys.

  11. Ben F says:

    HI i can not believe what am reading i never even thought there were issues around the viewing of the NHL in the uk up until tonight 7th october when i try to watch the season opener, being a HUGE detroit red wings fan im totally gutted.this is a farce and i hope that somebody will face the fans and get the NHL broadcast on espn or sky. they all bang on about we do it for the fans etc what a load of BS ! all the teams should strike the games due to fans not in the us to state a point. im totally disgusted please get it bloody sorted to the broadcasters your total rip offs because the ads are still shown on espn and espn america in the uk even today 7th october to get new subscribers and yet your not showing it instead SH**Ty NFL and college football that no1 gives a rats ass about biggest load of rubbish them two sports they should not be screened at all-we want the NHL ON LIVE! and i hope many fans follow my lead and the NHL teams should also COME ON TEAMS BACK THE EUROPEAN FANS ESPECIALLY IN THE UK! get youir games on our tv’s not the internet

  12. George says:

    hi i’m a canadian living in italy!
    i’m a leaf fan and i’m pissed of paying sky for nothing!
    What rights do we have? What can we possibly do to get the
    NHL back?
    very disappointing!!!!!!

  13. mathieu says:

    I don’t understand this: on my Sky package there is a channel devoted to CARAVANING and CANAL BOATS. That’s right. Would it be so hard to have some sort of NHL network for the UK? I’d cancel ESPN and subscribe to that instead. You already have the feed from gamecentre.com, and there is really no need for expensive programmes or UK-based commentators, or any analysis in between periods or any of that junk. I have to think it’d make money, no? Who are they hoping to sell to at this point that would give them a better deal? BBC two???

  14. Neil Gibbs says:

    Money is at the heart of this problem of course as the suits try to ensure that their interests are represented first and foremost .As far as the NHL is concerned they couldn’t give a toss about European fans as is witnessed by their complete failure to recognise that there even us an issue.Medge/AMI bought the product to get it to market

  15. To everyone, Nhl is back on our TV !!!!!(in the uk),its on Premier sports sky channel 433,to start it will be 10 games a week mixed between Live and delayed,£7.99 a month(Minimum subscribtion 2 mths,cancelation 1 mths notice) with an initial connection fee of £5 no HNIC as of yet but NHL on the fly will be aired!!!,coverage starts Oct 15 Ducks versus Sharks(3am GMT) then delayed full games start 945 am on sunday,two games too be confirmed!!!.

  16. @ Nixon!,sorry buddy but Espn may have The NHL Back on but not in the Uk :((,premier sports has the tv rights and it is poor compared to ESPN AMERICA,a very dissapointed Hockey fan here!!!

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