WCHA Hockey: Viewing Options for College Hockey

Hockey Writers Combine

The reconstituted WCHA had their first league meeting in Bemidji, Minnesota on Sunday and Monday.  One of the major issues they discussed was their league-wide media package. To me, it seems like a work in progress going forward.

Jack Hittinger, Bemidji Pioneer – Bemidji State president Richard Hanson described the package as an internet-based streaming service similar to ESPN3. At the moment, he said, it doesn’t involve a league-wide television deal and it’s still in the early stages. On Monday the presidents sat through a presentation outlining how such a package would work.

“It’ll be a web feed from all of our schools, and while that’s not as good as television it’s still useful,” he said. “So today we took the first couple of steps. We got the model explained to us.”

Hanson said the league would be working with Fox, which is launching a new streaming service called Fox Sports Go.

Each school would still be producing its own broadcasts, he said, but games would all be accessible from one source.

While the WCHA never had a league television deal to start with, some of the schools in the WCHA had their own regional television deals in place. So, when the Big Ten Hockey Conference and National Collegiate Hockey Conference schools left the WCHA, these schools took their existing or new television deals with them.

The new WCHA has no current league television deal and they have to start from scratch.

Obviously, the Big Ten has the Big Ten Network, which is a financial gold mine. The NCHC has a new television deal with CBS Sports Network. In its current form, the WCHA has no current television deal.

Without a current television deal, the WCHA will get little exposure on the national level.

I am not sure, how a web deal is going to do much for national exposure. Hooking up a desktop computer or laptop to your home television can be a bit difficult, if you’re not very tech savvy.

During the 2012-13 NHL Lockout, college hockey played a major role in filling the gap left by the NHL lockout, especially in the USA. NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network allowed college hockey fans to see firsthand that Division I college hockey is a viable game and gave them an option to the NHL. Some hockey fans, decided to stick with the NCAA Hockey after the NHL lockout ended.

If you have DirecTV package – with the sports package – you can watch many regional broadcasts of college hockey. This season, thanks to DirecTV, I watched both Monday’s of the Beanpot Tournament, as well as both games of the 2013 Hockey City Classic.

Why not develop a college hockey television package like the NHL and the NBA have? I know many fans that would pay extra money to subscribe to a college hockey television package