Earlier this week, Ben Koo rightly pointed out the problems with ESPN almost completely ignoring Monday's NHL trade deadline. However, there are also perils at the other end of the spectrum, as demonstrated by the way many Canadian media outlets hype up the trade deadline for months in advance and then deliver wall-to-wall coverage with very little action on the day itself. Much as it was with Linsanity, the differences between the coverage of a significant sports event in two adjacent countries are remarkable. The best solution may be somewhere in the middle.
There's never any shortage of NHL trade deadline coverage in Canada; in fact, the opposite is true. Two sports television networks (TSN, which is 20 percent owned by ESPN, and Rogers Sportsnet) do day-long deadline shows full of analysts and discussion on their main channels, many sports radio stations (most of which are affiliated with either TSN or Sportsnet) pretty much follow suit and the print and online media regularly jump into the fray with their own live blogs, reporting and analysis. If you're a Canadian with any interest in sports, the larger issue frequently isn't finding trade deadline news, but avoiding being swamped by it.
On the one hand, this massive coverage of the deadline isn't all bad. There's plenty of interest in the trade deadline even when there aren't a lot of massive moves made, as was the case Monday. Despite a slow day of trades, TSN's 10-hour broadcast averaged 259,000 viewers, and it reached a peak of 544,000 viewers at 3:50 p.m. Eastern near the actual deadline. Those are pretty remarkable numbers, higher than some lower-tier live sports up here (such as an average MLS or NBA game), and that's particularly impressive considering that this came during a day when most of the country's at work. (The cubicle-trapped still made an impact, too, particularly on the web where TSN hauled in a record 20.8 million pageviews and 240,000 people watching their streaming broadcast.) Hype helps, sure, but you need some genuine interest in the subject to draw numbers like that, and there's no dispute Canadians have plenty of interest in hockey moves.