NATIONAL TV: The Los Angeles Kings are not on the national television schedule in the United States in the 2008-09 season; only two games are on the schedule with start times that will allow most West Coast viewers to watch the entire game.
LOS ANGELES — One sign that everyone knows that a team is going to be dreadful in the coming season is when they are not scheduled to be on national television, and that is exactly the case for the lowly Los Angeles Kings.
To be sure, much of this is because the Kings are very, very likely to be nowhere near competitive for a playoff spot this season. But a more influential factor is that the league caters and prostitutes itself to Eastern Time Zone cities at the expense of most Western Conference cities.
Of course, the NHL knows who butters their bread. The majority of its fans are located in Eastern Time Zone cities. But if you have ever looked at the national television schedule, it is so heavily weighted towards Eastern Time Zone audiences that, if you’re an avid hockey fan in the West, you cannot enjoy the vast majority of games televised by Versus since they are at least a third of the way through the game before you get home from a long day at work—you can never see a nationally televised game from the beginning unless you record it or get home early.
It is even worse this season, as just two games on Versus will air at 7:30 PM Pacific time.
The latest any of the other weeknight games will begin is 5:00 PM Pacific time.
Without question, the NHL is certainly not the only culprit here. After all, television networks do not want to televise teams that a national audience generally will not be interested in.
But in any case, hockey fans in the West have extremely limited viewing options. They must hope that the NHL Network will televise some Western Conference games, not to mention, they must have access to the NHL Network, since not all satellite and cable outlets offer it. And if the NHL Network is not available to them, they will be forced to cough up the dough for a satellite dish and the Center Ice package, which is not inexpensive.
All that just to be able to enjoy an out-of-market game from start to finish? That is certainly not the way to grow the game and increase the fan base outside of the Eastern Time Zone.
In the coming season, Kings fans are stuck with FSN West/FSN West Prime Ticket exclusively, unless they have Center Ice—the Kings will be televised twice on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada and once on TSN:
Saturday, November 1: Calgary Flames vs. Los Angeles Kings, 7:00 PM PST (CBC)
Saturday, January 31, 2009: Kings vs. Montreal Canadiens, 11:00 PM PST (CBC)
Wednesday, November 26: Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers, 7:00 PM PST (TSN)
There is a miniscule chance that the Kings could appear on NBC in the United States, as they have only scheduled two games in January at this point. However, it is a foregone conclusion that NBC will focus on playoff-contending teams starting in February, 2009, and will continue in that mode through the end of the season, so don’t hold your breath, Kings fans.
Here are the complete US and Canadian national television schedules: League Releases TV Schedules For 2008-09.
Another voice on the national TV schedule: Thanks NHL and Versus.
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