Bill Simmons Wonders Why ESPN Doesn’t Have More Hockey Coverage

by Ryan GlasspiegelFollow Sports Rapport on Twitter

In today’s podcast with his buddy Jack-O, Bill Simmons acknowledged that he hasn’t been that into this baseball season for a variety of reasons: the relative struggles of the Red Sox combined with his immersion in the NBA and NHL Playoffs. ESPN’s coverage, however, has not been representative of his interests.

Around the 52-minute mark:

Simmons: It’s weird because I really got into hockey the last 18 months or so–especially this year. Turning on Sportscenter–you always hear people complain about ESPN that ESPN buries hockey all the time–and it’s kind of true. I hate to throw a dart at the worldwide leader but you’ll go on SportsCenter to watch the hockey highlights and they don’t come on until like the 35-minute mark of SportsCenter. There was a day the other day, they were showing national league highlights of two teams that weren’t even .500 and they showed like three minutes of highlights from this game and then, like 10 minutes later, they showed the NHL playoff highlights.

Jack-O: I don’t want to be a corporate shill here but don’t they do that for a reason, though? I mean, they must know their audience, right?

Simmons: Well that’s the thing. I was thinking like there has to be some sort of real science to this and somebody must have determined that there’s indisputable evidence that there’s no reason that hockey should go within these first 20 minutes of SportsCenter unless X, X, and X is in play.

Perhaps it is true that the general American population cares more about a relatively insignificant baseball game than the NHL Playoffs–we definitely care more about Jonathan Vilma’s defamation of character lawsuit against Roger Goodell and the Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow quarterback controversy than both.

Yahoo’s hockey blog, Puck Daddy, had a great discussion about ESPN’s lack of hockey coverage: essentially, it’s a chicken or the egg question. Is there no interest in hockey because ESPN doesn’t give it any attention or does ESPN not give it any attention because there’s no interest?

Or, might it be that ESPN gives more attention to regular season baseball highlights than NHL Playoffs because it has a TV contract with the MLB and not the NHL? As soon as ESPN stopped broadcasting the NHL, it almost entirely ceased coverage.

It’ll be interesting to see whether a potential big-market Stanley Cup between the New York Rangers and LA Kings affects ESPN’s coverage and whether future years will be different.

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