If you can’t make it to Atlantic City, N.J., for the ECAC Hockey championships and were hoping to watch the games on TV, forget it. You will have to pay to watch on your computer.
The ECACH semifinals, third-place and championship games won’t have TV coverage this weekend. The only way you can watch is on the Internet, at a cost of $9.95 per game each day. The broadcasts are being produced by RPI TV.
“It’s very disappointing,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. “One of the reasons we went down to Atlantic City is they gave us a great guarantee. Not to be on TV as one of the major conferences is really disappointing. For our alumni base across the country, they depend on TV [to televise the] semis and the championship games and get an opportunity to see your team play.
“I think it’s a big failure for our league not to have those games on TV. It’s something that can’t happen.”
Last year, CBS Sports Network televised the games. This year, it decided not to. With NBC Sports Network televising the Hockey East tournament championships and with no regional cable sports networks interested, the ECACH is out of luck.
“We tried with NBC, but they opted for Hockey East,” ECACH commissioner Steve Hagwell said. “CBS Sports said they would not do our games. From a national standpoint, those two were out.
“On regional sports network, NESN, which was approached, has the Hockey East, obviously, so they weren’t interested. Comcast New England has a Celtics commitment.”
In the Capital Region, Time Warner Cable Sports is committed to televising the state boys’ and girls’ high school basketball championships this weekend, so it’s unable to pick up the hockey contests. SNY was also approached.
“You start dwindling down, and your network options are limited,” Hagwell said.
Hagwell said he was given feedback by CBS Sports Network, but wouldn’t get into the specifics.
A CBS Sports Network spokesman said that the network decided to expand its NCAA basketball tournament programming this year.
Asked if the league would offer the games free on America One to the fans, Hagwell said no.
“We have a contractual obligation with America One,” Hagwell said. “As part of that contractual obligation, there’s a financial tie-in. They, obviously, have their interests.”
Hagwell and Schafer aren’t the only ones who expressed their disappointment.
“I heard there were some issues with some of the networks maybe not wanting to carry us,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said. “I didn’t find out about it until a couple of weeks ago from my athletic director. A league of our stature, especially with the teams that are in this championship this weekend, I just find it really hard to believe that a major network would not want to pick up an ECAC championship round. I’m really disappointed that we weren’t able to make that happen.”
Fans can log on to www.ecachockey.com or www.americaonesports.com to watch the games. After the weekend, RPI TV will provide high-definition videos of the games for on-demand viewing at www.rpitv.org at no cost. Fans can order DVD and Blue-ray copies.
RPI TV has been producing live broadcasts of RPI home hockey games since 2005. Producing the ECACH championships marks the first time RPI TV is producing a sports broadcast off campus.
“It’s truly a unique opportunity for our members and everyone involved,” RPI TV president Ben Vreeland said in a statement. “We’re extremely excited to raise the profile of RPI TV and ECAC Hockey through our exceptional student-produced broadcasts and free videos on demand.”