Dear NHL Network.
I like you. When I had Time Warner and they threw it in to the package for free, it was great. I enjoyed eating breakfast basking in the glow of last night's highlights with hosted by former back-up goalies. Plus, if I didn't have GameCenter, those extra games would have sure been swell! Now I know, outside of that we didn't spend a ton of time together, but still, I liked you around occasionally.
But let's get some things straight. As much as you wish you were, you aren't a national network. My current cable company (you know, that tiny upstart company, AT&T – you might have heard of them) doesn't even offer you. What the hell is that? They offer such indemand stations as Jewelry Television, Dayster, and The TENNIS CHANNEL, but don't offer NHL Network. I think that makes this on you NHL. In fact, the only one cable company in town does offer you. That's embarrassing.
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And even when you are offered, you are usually bundled in package like the "Sports Pass" or "Serious Sports Fanatic", which includes other highly in-demand services such as Fox Sports 2(?), Yes Network and Pac12 National. Yeah, you have a long way to go. Because I'm not really into the Pac12 or any other high school field girls hockey game offered on those channels, I'd essentially be paying an extra $120 bucks a year just for the NHL Network, even if I could. No thanks.
And because you simply aren't available, no matter how much you scream otherwise, you've got to stop claiming national exclusivity on so many games. It wasn't terrible when it was one or two games a week. As a Wings fan, it used to affect me at most four times a year. But this year, if you include tomorrow's game, you've prevented me from watching three of the six games this year on GameCenter, that thing I pay the NHL $160 a year for. I've missed 50% of the Detroit games because of you.
Plus, you're ruining games unrelated to the Wings. Black-outs hit one or two games a night I want to actually watch. I can think of entirely too many times I was stuck watching Florida vs. Calgary when Pittsburgh vs. Chicago was blacked-out because of you. You're devaluing GameCenter to the point where I'm considering other, more illegal options. Other less fanatical folk might just give up and stop following, as it is just not worth it. Because this is the most common thing I see when I try to watch a game it seems:
So, you have a couple options:
First, which is the easiest, STOP BLACKING OUT GAMES ON GAMECENTER. You aren't a national network today, so you can't act like it. It is that simple, you're ruining your other products, like GameCenter and Center Ice. Or you can do option two…
- BECOME A NATIONAL NETWORK. Get on AT&T, WOW, and other cable providers. And for all cable companies, not just offered as a super-premium tier, but in a normal package. That might take accepting less money, but it is necessary. I can get the MLB, NBA, and NFL channels (plus tennis, golf, racing, outdoors, one million college sports stations, etc.), but can't get the NHL network. You're a top tier sports league, you need to act like it, even if it means swallowing your pride for a few less dollars up front, it will pay off long term. .
One of these needs to happen. Because if you don't fix it and I still have to deal with your BS next year, the league can kiss my $160 Gamecenter renewal (and inherently a lot of my interest) goodbye.