The St. Louis Blues and the NHL recently released some of the national television schedule. The Blues will be featured coast-to-coast on 13 total games in the 2023-24 season.
That used to be cause for celebration. The reality is it causes more problems than it solves in today’s day and age.
In the past, getting your team on national television was something that was pretty cool and, sometimes, special. It has lost its luster now and, actually, creates more issues for fans.
While the digital age is still pretty new, we all get used to whatever the recent way has been. We forget that ESPN would show predominantly east coast games.
If you tuned in for NHL on ESPN, you’d almost always see Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, one of the New York teams or Washington. Sometimes they would showcase a Chicago game or one of the Detroit vs Colorado rivalry matchups, but in those days getting a Blues game on ESPN was a big deal.
Though NBC was actually slightly better for showcasing the whole league, there was still a coastal bias. On their double-header nights, they would show those same eastern teams and then go west to show the Kings or Sharks.
Of course, we all know that once NBC took over the reigns, the infatuation with Chicago really hit full gear. So, when the Blues finally started getting national games and league-sponsored games of importance, like the Kraft Hockeyville preseason game or the Winter Classic, it was important.
Shift forward just a few years and I’d rather the Blues have no national games. Blame streaming for that little fact.
The truth is that the majority of people no longer have a television service. I did not keep track of the source, but recently learned that satellite and cable actually make up less than 50% of the customer base now.
Getting your game on national television is no longer that big a deal. Most people find ways to watch their favorite team out of market, no matter how.
If you’re a Blues fan living in Boise, you don’t have to wait for the odd time that ESPN or TNT may actually show them. Chances are good you don’t have a terrestrial television service and you’re likely subscribed to a way you can see the Blues anyway.
However, the point about cable and satellite no longer being the norm is also part of the problem. Now, any time the team shifts to a different channel, the fan has to figure out what they’re doing.
For some, this is no big issue. Those people are often watching the game on their device, so it doesn’t matter.
For those of us caught in between technologies, this is a huge problem. Using myself as an example, I still want to watch games on the television but have switched to streaming only.
So, when the Blues are on Bally Sports Midwest, it is usually ok. Sometimes the app on the television upstairs is buggy, but then I go downstairs and cast it onto the older television. I prefer being in the basement for hockey games, since it’s kind of a man cave setup, but that’s not the point.
The point enters when I have to switch. ESPN+ has to be watched on the upstairs television because the ESPN app on the PlayStation in the basement is as reliable as a broken clock.
TNT is just a complete mess. As of 2022-23, they didn’t have an app I could find on my television, so I had to use the computer. Trying to cast from their website to the TV often resulted in a horrible quality picture or having to actually watch the computer screen on the TV since it would not let me go full screen.
Some out there might be saying these are all technical issues and not the fault of the broadcast companies. While I agree, it doesn’t make the fact that national games cause more problems go away.
Streaming was supposed to be part of this grand future where just about anything was available. In theory, it is available, but it’s actually more of a pain in the you know what to find and watch uninterrupted now.
The ESPN app can sometimes glitch or give you the spinning circle of doom if internet traffic is high in your area. I’ve mentioned the problems with TNT.
Additionally, all this differing technologies fractures and splits the audience. If you’re streaming only and only want to pay for so many things, you may not even have the ability to watch TNT games. The only way I see the TNT games are because someone was kind enough to lend me their log in
For those that are old school and don’t have smart TVs, any game that isn’t on their cable or satellite package is out the window. So, my parents cannot watch the games that are strictly on ESPN+ or Hulu.
I know several people that watch out of market games free through a certain website. That’s easier on the bank account, but still causes issues for figuring how to transfer that onto the television.
I’m not that old and we aren’t that far removed from the cable-dominated era, but it feels like forever ago. It used to be you never had any issues unless there was a power outage.
Now, you need four or five things to go right just to watch a game uninterrupted. Did your app sign you out, do you remember the password, can you access whatever email the login code will be sent to, how many services can you afford or will the internet be working fine when you want to watch?
How quickly things have changed to where someone who is still relatively tech savvy is now the old man yelling at clouds. All I want is to turn on the TV and the game be on.
I don’t want to have to scroll through a ton of apps and log in for the 50th time and hope some bug doesn’t say I’m not allowed access to this content. National television games cause even more problems now from a situation that is already getting too complicated.
We shouldn’t complain, I suppose. While I was young, I do remember a time when you were lucky to get 20-30 games televised, let alone the entire season. Still, it’s actually getting more difficult to get these games, even though they are available.