Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mission accomplished...?

Columbus Blue Jackets fans want their TV hockey in high-definition.
This season, they'll get 98.7% of it that way.  (And one game will be blacked out.)

Fox Sports Ohio press release first, commentary to follow...


Ohio’s leading regional sports network to televise 79 Blue Jackets games in HD 

COLUMBUS, OHIO – FOX Sports Ohio and the Columbus Blue Jackets announced today the 2011-12 telecast schedule as the network has increased its coverage to carry 79 regular season games, all in high definition.

FOX Sports Ohio’s coverage of the Columbus Blue Jackets begins on Friday, October 7 when the club opens the 2011-12 season at home at Nationwide Arena with a 7pm match-up against Central Division rival Nashville Predators.

Of the Blue Jackets’ complete 82-game schedule, FOX Sports Ohio will NOT be able to televise the following three games due to Versus (NBC Sports Network beginning January 2) exclusivity:
  • Wednesday, October 12th vs. the Colorado Avalanche (national broadcast window)
  • Wednesday, March 28th vs. the Detroit Red Wings (televised on NBC Sports Network)
  • Thursday, April 5th at the Colorado Avalanche (televised on NBC Sports Network) 
Coverage each game night will begin with Blue Jackets Live pre-game show, presented by Central Ohio Toyota Dealers, featuring highlights, player interviews and analysis 30 minutes prior to each game. On Opening Night, FOX Sports Ohio will feature a 1-hour pre-game show. Immediately following the final horn, the coverage will continue with the post-game edition of Blue Jackets Live, presented by IGS Energy.

Broadcast Team

In-game: The FOX Sports Ohio/Blue Jackets broadcast team features play-by-play announcer Jeff Rimer alongside color analyst Bill Davidge. John Michael will return for his third season as rink side reporter 

Blue Jackets Live: Preceding home games, Davidge will additionally co-host Blue Jackets Live from Nationwide Arena with Ray Crawford. For all away games, Crawford will co-host the show from the studio with David Maetzold. While in this new role, Maetzold will continue to provide his outstanding feature segments for Blue Jackets Live.

Remember just a year ago?  I tossed out a "modest proposal" - Broadcasting all 82 Columbus Blue Jackets games in high definition.  And...we didn't quite get there.  But it was clear that Fox Sports knew of the fans' interest in this matter...as well the fact that the fans knew who was responsible for making it happen.

But that was last year, and the dynamics changed drastically this season (NBA lockout loosening up Fox Sports Ohio's scheduling...broadcast contract renegotiation year on the horizon...).

We're now up to 81 games not just broadcast but in high-definition, too - 79 from Fox Sports Ohio and 2 from The Network Soon To Be Formerly Known As Versus.  Only one game, the October 12 matchup at Nationwide against Colorado, falls inside of the dreaded "national exclusivity blackout" period.

We can ask for perfection, but remember that only 50 games were in high-def as recently as 2009-10.  The growth of Blue Jackets hockey in HD is monumental.  And we fans should celebrate.

Sure, there are extenuating circumstances that helped make this 98.7% coverage level possible, but who really cares?  81 games will be available to the fans on television, and in high-def.

So I'll slap on my blogger's codpiece, strut around the proverbial aircraft carrier and shout, "Mission Accomplished!"  (Even though it's not perfect.)  As a fan who loves going to CBJ games live but can't get down to the arena half as much as I'd like, this is really, really exciting.

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