Thanks to Deadspin's excellent series Bristolmetrics, statistical evidence has been provided that has proved something we've known all along... ESPN doesn't give a damn about the NHL. To date in their study since January 7th, the NHL receives a meager 3.1% of SportsCenter airtime. Given ESPN doesn't have a contract with the NHL and employs 1 NHL analyst that makes regular appearances on SportsCenter, this apathy towards the NHL is no mystery. In fact, the extent to which the NHL is ignored by ESPN has become its own sort of running gag and a badge of honor for hockey fans.
But it got me thinking, if there was ever a time for ESPN to pay attention to the NHL, it would be Thursday. The Stanley Cup Playoffs had just kicked off the night before with a full slate of games. There was no big ESPN event that evening to promote. There was no breaking news throughout the day that deserved full-scale coverage. In fact, the sports story of the day was Philly's dramatic 4-3 OT victory in Pittsburgh after trailing 3-0 in Game 1 of their series. If there was any day for SportsCenter to dive a little deeper into the NHL, this would be it.
So with an ode to the Bristolmetrics study, I decided to pick a random, run-of-the-mill SportsCenter - the 1 PM ET edition on Thursday, to see how much coverage they devoted to the NHL. The live afternoon SportsCenters are a hodgepodge of highlights from the night before, analysis and features, and looking ahead to the coming evening. Even though they're all billed as live, they share roughly the same content from hour to hour. It's an interesting look into SportsCenter's evolution in being just as much about opinion and analysis as highlights and reports. With the NHL having their night to shine, how much ice time did the league get on the afternoon edition of SportsCenter?
2 minutes and 8 seconds.
2:08! That's it! That's barely longer than a North Korean missile launch! In the nearly 44 minutes of SportsCenter action (43:49 by my unscientific count), that amounted to a mere 4.9% of SportsCenter. Hey, at least its up from the average year to date. So what did SportsCenter actually use their time to talk about? Here's the eye-opening breakdown...