During the Memorial Cup Final on Sunday, NHL.com’s AHL writer Patrick Williams brought up an interesting concept when it came to the AHL’s Calder Cup Finals coming up and how to get some buzz to those casual minor league hockey fans.
AHL needs to be on TV like the CHL is….nearly non-stop Memorial Cup tweets in my timeline even from those who don’t usually follow CHL.
— PATRICK WILLIAMS (@pwilliamsNHL) May 29, 2017
Williams is not wrong. The AHL putting their games out there for free on AHLLive.com, but even with that, people need to have a purpose to go to that site and put in all the things in order to watch the game. It’s not like the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) had in the US and Canada where you could be flipping around the channels and find themselves watching the game because it caught their attraction. Yes, you can make the argument that the NHL is not in and around many prime channels and you may need a reason to turn to that channel– but it’s still on TV is the point.
That said, the production value of the games will have to be better by ten-fold. On the AHL Live feed, all the things that are shown on the jumbotron are shown on the broadcast, including in-game graphics and promotions, are shown during the broadcast with the radio play-by-play being over top of the action. It’s not like you can see a replay and have those plays broken down, so it’s a real disadvantage. There are times AHL Live simulcasts TV broadcasts, but it’s few and far between.
At this point in the season, you would think that both the AHL and the ECHL would want to show off their product in the best of lights. The member teams, you would hope, would find a way to get a local TV station to help with the production of their game film and make it very presentable for a championship series and not the grainy quality you’d expect to see in archival footage from the 1970s.
Of course, a budget factor would come into play. You wouldn’t think teams would have much money earmarked for the TV side of things, though at this point in the season– you could splurge for something like this. Plus, you’d have to imagine that if they got on regular TV, the NHL Network would be able to grab that satellite feed and broadcast it on their airwaves because, well, they don’t have anything else going on right now except for the Cup Finals for the next two weeks or so. Why not put the AHL or ECHL playoffs onto the channel to give hockey fans more hockey that matters on the air?
I’ll always advocate for minor league hockey and to get minor league hockey into the mainstream for people to not only check-up on their team’s prospects, but to learn about new players, areas, teams, league, and whatever else they can take away from watching the games. Making them watchable has to be the first step for minor leagues – first on a production level and next to get it out to the masses.
If there’s anything I missed with what the AHL and ECHL could do to improve upon their broadcasts, hit up the comment section.