On August 24, the PHF announced that it had reached an agreement to have their games exclusively broadcast on ESPN+ in the United States - where their games were broadcast last season - for the next two seasons. Internationally, TSN will have live coverage for Canadian viewers. The agreement includes coverage of the regular season, and special events (I’m guessing that means All-Star Game/Classic), as well as the Isobel Cup Playoffs.
In a culmination of Season 7, the Isobel Cup Final between the Boston Pride and Connecticut Whale was broadcast on ESPN2 in the US, but there was no mention in the press release if that will be the case again for Season 8.
Last season was a mixed bag for me. It was great to have the games on an ESPN platform, but anyone expecting ESPN to send any big names to any of the games, or any consistent written coverage was severely disappointed. I felt like 95% of the broadcasts last season were great, clean, no issues, strong stream, easy to find on the ESPN+ app after the second weekend. But, it’s also an additional thing you have to pay for/subscribe to - on top of the other 75 streaming services we have to acquire to watch something we like.
Having the Isobel Cup Final on ESPN2 was great because - if you wanted to go to a bar to watch the game, you could. Hopefully that happens again this season. I’m not sure how many adult establishments out there are subscribed to ESPN+ and can show you the PHF games every weekend if you ask.
But there is room for improvement for sure. During the regular season, none of the broadcasters were actually in the rinks of the games they were calling. That was noticeable, and not in a good way. While I understand our broadcasting friends in Minnesota love a getaway to Florida, where ESPN hosted the broadcasts, it was silly to have them calling games in Minnesota from Florida.
Hopefully we see a return to each team having their own broadcast crew. And more replays. I know the game goes quick and there is little time in between face-offs, but there were some fantastic plays we only saw once or twice unless Mike Murphy was able to GIF it in real-time.
The intermissions need to feature better content as well. Regurgitating short videos that the teams have posted during the season are great and all, but maybe mix in some pre-game interviews or fun features from the rink, or breakdown the scoring leaders, standings, schedules, etc,
Again, it’s great that ESPN is airing these games, but will they show highlights on their main station? Will PHF scores be on their website? On their bottom line? Will anyone from ESPN attend a game to write an article, or record a segment that will air on any of their 58 cable channels? Will ESPN post about the PHF on Twitter or any other place they post things?
These players are deserving of so much more, and while we try our hardest at TIG to amplify them and their messages, we don’t have the reach that other outlets do. That’s just facts. How much of a difference would it make as far as reaching a wider audience, if ESPN simply had PHF scores on their Bottom Line during the season? How many people, that had no idea the PHF existed, would discover the league via that small gesture?