Friday, October 1, 2010

82 in 10? Not quite. (But all is not lost)

Fox Sports Ohio published their list of games to be broadcast in high-definition today, effectively finalizing the Columbus Blue Jackets television schedule. And while we're not going to see 82 in 10, we have a better package than past years and a deepening commitment to the Blue Jackets out of Fox Sports that should be encouraging for all fans of our boys in Union Blue.

First, it's wise to remember this clip from the 82 in 10 post:
As for FSO and the Blue Jackets, we've seen the following numbers of games broadcast in hi-def as follows:
  • 2006-2007: 20 games
  • 2007-2008: 25 games
  • 2008-2009: 40 games
  • 2009-2010: 50 games
Looking at the posted schedule of high-definition games, it appears that Fox Sports Ohio has raised their bar to 67 games.  Adding 17 games to the high-def side of the ledger is no small feat.  Now, only 8 of their games are not in HD:
  • 1/14 v. Detroit 
  • 1/25 v. Anaheim 
  • 2/4 at Detroit 
  • 2/16 v. Los Angeles 
  • 3/4 at Calgary 
  • 3/9 v. St. Louis
  • 4/3 v. St. Louis 
  • 4/8 at Nashville 
Perhaps most disappointing about this is that 5 of the 8 games are home games.  One would presume that obtaining HD feeds out of far-away towns is not a given, but I have to think that Fox Sports Ohio has some degree of control over offering HD for home games.  

I did some cross-referencing against FSO's other big fall/winter/spring sports property, the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, and it should not come as a surprise that the Cavs are playing those 8 nights on Fox Sports Ohio -- in high-def.  But those are not the only time/date overlaps on the FSO calendar.  By my quick count, the Blue Jackets and the Cavs have 28 other dates where their start times are within three hours of each other - and both games on each night are in HD.  So while it's convenient and perhaps even fun to blame the Cavs for taking the CBJ's high-def broadcast space, I submit that such criticism is at least partially inaccurate.  

The problem inherent in this analysis is that we don't know what goes into making a given game an HD broadcast and another game a standard-def broadcast.  I've tried on a few occasions to get an understanding from Fox Sports Ohio, and their very helpful communications director, Kate Buddenhagen, suggests that it's just too complex to be explained.  I'm not a television industry engineer, so I'll have to take her at her word and believe that my university education and ongoing graduate studies just won't cut it.  

Thus, we're back to 75 games broadcast on Fox Sports Ohio in some manner or other, 3 games on Versus, 1 game (10/9 - v. San Jose in Stockholm) on CBC (Like that helps us Yanks), 1 (11/2 v. Montreal) on RDS (Comme ├ža nous aide Yankees) and 2 (12/15 v. Vancouver; 12/21 v. Calgary) that have no TV whatsoever.  That's 78 out of 82 games that we can get on TV here in metro Columbus...a number that really isn't shabby.  Then throw in that 70 of the 78 games will be in high-definition, and we're well on our way to reaching the goal of 82 in 10.  Might not be this season, but it's a lot closer than it's ever been.

And before we pillory Fox Sports Ohio, let's also remember what they've also done just this season with their Columbus Blue Jackets coverage:
  • They have a weekly CBJ television show, Blue Jacket Slap Shots, in the works.  I cannot overstate how great this development is for the fans nor can I overstate how exciting this should be for the team.  I'll be watching closely and will offer constructive criticism as time goes on.  
  • They streamed a non-broadcast pre-season game on their website this week.  Didn't have to do that, but they did.
  • They hired one of the CBJ's most prolific bloggers, Eric Smith, and set him loose to write and Tweet as much as he can handle (not to mention posting locker room interview videos and more on their site).
  • They have a weekly podcast with Eric Smith and Ray Crawford interviewing guests from all over about the Blue Jackets and the NHL.
So we didn't get our 82 in 10.  Instead, we got 78 games, 70 in HD.  Ask some other teams' fans how they'd like our 2010-11 package, and you'd need to get a drip pan to catch all the drool.  It's not perfect, but it's a lot better...and the bonus items from Fox Sports Ohio are no small potatoes, either.


  1. Thanks for the article. I too have wondered if you have all the infrastructure, why wouldn't all the games be in HD. What's the real additional cost?

    Other sports seem to do it NFL, college football, auto racing etc... In fact, most sports are there. I don't watch baseball much but even that seems to be there. Why not hockey, where HD makes such a big difference?

  2. As best I can figure, you've got HD camera/equipment rental and then the costs of putting out an HD feed.

    Fox Sports Ohio runs two standard-def feeds (It appears that they have not yet made HD their primary transmission method), one for Cleveland and one for Cincinnati. As best I can tell, Columbus gets the Cincinnati feed - which gets us Blue Jackets games when Cleveland is forced to watch the Cavs.

    And then they have at least one HD feed, which comes on when there is HD programming to show. The fact that the likes of Time Warner and Buckeye Auto Glass are mentioned as sponsors of the HD feeds tells me that there's a cost to power up that extra feed.

    I honestly thought it was a CBJ-Cavs schedule conflict thing - that FSO was prioritizing the Cavs over the CBJ in terms of access to the HD feed. But with all of the other schedule conflicts where both teams will be seen in HD in the same window, that can't be the case.


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