Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hockey Broadcast a Non-Medal Highlight

No medals were awarded Sunday, but a somewhat suprising U.S. victory against Canada finally got Olympic men's hockey on NBC.

As the game concluded on MSNBC -- with play-by-play man Mike Emrick again showing why he's one of the best hockey broadcasters in the business -- NBC finally showed the action from what was an action-packed game.

Because it was not skating or sking, because it was only a preliminary round game, NBC had pushed the star-studded hockey matchup to MSNBC, where it aired commercial-free, live and in its entirety.

Only with the U.S. victory ensured did NBC mention the game. That came just after 10 p.m., with Bob Costas noting the victory and then, after a break, the network provided a live look-in at the empty arena with Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth recounting the emotion and energy of the game with a few highlights. They were clearly impressed with the game they had witnessed.

Unfortunately, many other sports fans were denied that opportunity. Sure, die-hards with the right cable package or satellite service certainly found the game on MSNBC, but many others missed a chance to watch one of the Games' best moments so far live.

And NBC's crew, led by Emrick and analyst Ed Olczyk, were solid throughout. Olczyk, the former Pittsburgh Penguins coach, was the only person at a news conference before the start of the Games who said he expected the U.S. to emerge with the gold medal from the hockey tournament. Along with their on-air skills, the broadcast's production (camera angles, replays and more) were perfect.

Conversely, the hurried mention of the game on NBC was clearly live TV, because Michaels was audibly talking to his producer at the same time Costas was talking to the nation and trying to introduce him and Collinsworth.

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