Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Small Word of Advice

First of all let me say that I admire and respect Ted Leonsis (even if I seem to have fallen out of favor with him) despite the fact that I don't agree with some of his views.

But Ted, you would do yourself rather well to remember the old quote "never pick a fight with somebody who buys ink by the barrel."

It is difficult for somebody such as myself buy the line that you're selling that the NHL is alright when the evidence is decidedly going to the other way barely two weeks removed from having an NHL Playoff Overtime Period getting scrubbed for a Triple Crown Race.

Another reader sent me this article by e-mail last week and it is just about dead-on. And this passage is a shot right across your chops Ted:

And don't you dare give me any of that "revenues have never been better!" claptrap. Those who have been to games in St. Louis, Florida, New Jersey, Washington and about eight other NHL locales know how dire the league's straits are. Just because owners push their luck pushing up ticket prices doesn't make them sports visionaries of the highest order.

And from where I sit, he's right. You can't equivocate this by calling him a "doom and gloomer."

As for the Red Herring about circulation, how much clout does the New York Times and Washington (Com)Post still posses despite layoffs, despite declining circulation, despite declining ad revenues?

A whole heck of a lot more than the NHL does. The NHL's self-proclaimed "Hockeytown" can't even sellout a playoff game. What does that tell you Ted despite record high revenues for the NHL (which are mostly based upon ticket prices)?

Better yet, how is it that when I get link from Dan Steinberg (who BTW, asked me among many others for advice when he first started blogging despite the fact that I was just three months into blogging myself) I get more traffic over to this website than when I get a link from the Venerable Off Wing Opinion?

Very simply, Dan has a major media corporation backing him. The VOWO is an independent blog. I've said before and I'll say it again, blogs preach to the converted (not to detract from anything that the VOWO or anyother blog does).

While it is nice to go ahead and give an empty seat in your press box to the local blogger who puts in a serious effort at running their site, you shouldn't think for a second that they are reaching an audience that you haven't already gotten in touch with. And even if these guys have sat in the Press Box all season, in my opinion they shouldn't be given priority over a media outlet who can and does reach more people than the common blogger does. If the NHL wants to put an end to its long term problems, they need to reach beyond the converted because the fanbase it has right now clearly does not support the league. Bloggers are not going to do that for you right now, major media outlets will and shunning them is just suicidal.

I myself only subscribe to the dead tree version of the (Com) Post because I don't care to try to read some 20+ comic strips online and I do clip the coupons that come on Sundays. If it weren't for that, I would read the (Com)Post online like I do with Washington Times. How many other people out there read their local paper online for free instead of paying for a dead tree copy?

If these newspaper companies could figure out a way to make the Internet profitable, there wouldn't even be this discussion right now about the fate of the print media. The New York Times has placed their opinion writers behind a paid subscription wall and many newspapers like the (Com)Post require free registration (which can be defeated) to read print articles. If the NYT can make their paid side work, you watch how quickly the rest of the print media follows. But the Times have had their op-ed pieces behind the paid wall for sometime now and it hasn't turned out as well for them as they had hoped because nobody else is following suit and the rest of the paper is still available for free online.

But even if newspapers don't buy as many barrels of ink that they used to (or even stop buying them altogether (but even if newspapers don't buy as many barrels of ink that they used to (or even stop buying them))), they still have a considerable amount of clout when it comes to shaping popular opinion. Clout that the NHL wishes it had.


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