The U.S. Men’s hockey team was in overtime and then a shootout in the quarterfinals against the Czech Republic on Tuesday night, not that you would know it if you were watching NBC.
Yes, figure skating draws more eyeballs than hockey and that’s especially the case since this is the first Olympics since 1994 that didn’t include NHL players. But the women’s short program had concluded about the time the men’s hockey team forced overtime, and still viewers got interviews and analysis in the wake of another lackluster showing by U.S. Figure skaters.
The men’s team lost, by the way, in a shootout as the Czech Republic advances to play Russia in the semifinals. The game was broadcast on CNBC and streamed online, where most hardcore hockey fans watched on mute to avoid Mike Milbury’s commentary.
Maybe more failure on the ice by Team USA in one night was too much for broadcast viewers to take?
USA TODAY Sports asked NBC Sports why it didn’t put the game on NBC and we received the following response:.
“The game was simulcast across two widely distributed cable networks, including NBCSN, which is the home of hockey in the U.S.,” NBC Sports said in a statement.
NBC Sports didn’t address why the end of the game wasn’t put on NBC.
MORE:Czechs eliminate Team USA in hockey at 2018 Winter Olympics.
MORE:5 things the USA needs to do to win gold vs. Canada in women’s hockey.
NBC executives certainly weren’t happy that the NHL didn’t allow its players to compete in the tournament, especially given the fact the network is the official U.S. National broadcast partner of the league.
NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus told Sports Illustrated this week that viewership in the men’s tournament was down “in the high 20s or low 30s” percentage-wise compared to the 2014 Sochi Games.
“Listen, I think it is bad for hockey everywhere. Our numbers are off and if you look at the RSN (regional sports network) numbers for every NHL team over this week-long period, at least when I looked at it, all but two teams were off versus a year ago in this window,” Lazarus said. “So it is not good for anybody’s hockey ratings.
But maybe putting at least part of the game on broadcast would help things? Just a thought.
And, unlike other sports, those feel-good stories NBC produces in advance didn’t focus much on Team USA men’s hockey players, who were a mixture of prospects and retired NHL players — none of whom apparently learned how to score in a shootout.
The USA has another chance at hockey glory as the women’s team faces Canada in the gold-medal game. At least the game won’t be on a channel dedicated to Wall Street as NBC Sports Net will carry it starting at 11 p.M. ET.