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JONES: TV numbers are in and Edmonton a hit as NHL Hub City

 The Calgary Flames and the Winnipeg Jets face off to start the third period in Game 3 of the Western Conference Qualification Round at Rogers Place on August 04, 2020.
The Calgary Flames and the Winnipeg Jets face off to start the third period in Game 3 of the Western Conference Qualification Round at Rogers Place on August 04, 2020.

In the biz, they’re known as “beauty shots.”

Generally they’re the first views you see on a telecast of a sports event, setting the scene. Often they’ll feature an overhead view of the venue. During the game they’ll often be used from various locations around the city when coming back from commercial breaks and returning from intermission panel discussions.

For weeks on end people couldn’t get their heads wrapped around why Edmonton, in particular, was working so hard to win the bid to become Hub City from start to finish of the NHL’s ‘Return To Play’ 24-team version of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Fans wouldn’t be able to attend games in Rogers Place. There would be no interaction with anybody involved.

Well, already it’s become pretty obvious.

Barely a week into this thing and consider the extent of the “beauty shots” being used during the telecasts to this point, the early TV numbers and the plans to follow through to the night NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman presents the Stanley Cup in early October.

Early projections of the value of the beauty shots, determined by the stop watch count per game for each network so far, the $25,000 per 30-second commercial rate for the qualifying round that will escalate deeper into the playoffs, is that it will likely end up between $20 and $30 million.

The first TV numbers are in and, including all the Stanley Cup qualifiers (and an NBA Raptors game) Sportsnet reported a total of 10.7 million viewers Saturday and Sunday — connecting with 29 per cent of the entire Canadian population.

Hockey in August in an empty arena during a coronavirus pandemic? Bring it on!

Sportnet’s wall-to-wall coverage garnered a combined average minute audience of 821,000. In addition to TV audiences, there were more than two million streams on SN NOW and NHL Live.

NBC reported their largest audiences for a game other than the outdoor Winter Classic game when 1.572 watched the Pittsburgh Penguins-Montreal Canadians game from Toronto. A back-to-back presentation of games audience that was the highest in years and years, including 1.117 watching Game 1 of the Chicago Blackhawks-Edmonton Oilers game.

NBC telecast three games out of Edmonton Monday with Vegas-Dallas attracting 462,00 viewers, Winnipeg-Calgary being watched by 310,000 and Edmonton-Chicago drawing 371,000. Add those to the Sportsnet numbers when they’re revealed and you start getting the idea.

The wow number so far was from the Edmonton-Calgary exhibition game last week that attracted 4.5 million viewers.

That’s a Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final sized number.

Wait until the Eastern and Western Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final are held here.

“In many ways it’s almost priceless,” said Tammy Forbes of Explore Edmonton.

“It’s really the first time so many people have been exposed to Edmonton’s river valley stretch of urban parkland that’s 22 times the size of New York’s Central Park and 150 kilometres of trails spread throughout the city,” enthused Forbes of the drone camera shots.

Normally the location shots for a hockey game here contribute to Edmonton’s perception problem because of those bleak pictures from a mid-January game with deep freeze temperatures during a blizzard.

But this is August. And so far the drone beauty shots have been brilliant.

“It’s an opportunity for us to show off Edmonton with ice in the rink but not ice out on the street,” said Forbes. “We are using this free opportunity to showcase our river valley, our downtown, Rogers Place and the new Ice District, Whyte Avenue, the Arts District and so much more over the next 60-70 days.”

By the time Gary Bettman presents the Cup, between 60 and 81 games will be played in Edmonton averaging three hours or more.

There were no guarantees when Edmonton was making the bid, but Steve Mayer, the NHL’s Chief Content Officer, is a big believer in beauty shots and intends to keep them coming and get more and more creative as he gets deeper into the tournament.

“It’s beautiful here and the weather has been spectacular,” said Mayer. “We’re here and one of the things we want to do is showcase Edmonton and Alberta. For us, it’s part of the scene set.

“The thing is that so many people around the world, and particularly our world, don’t know Edmonton. They obviously know about the hockey tradition and much of the sports history but I believe a lot of perceptions could change. We’re doing the same thing in Toronto. I think it’s important. I think a sense of place is absolutely important with so many games coming from the same spot. I know it’s a neutral site. But it’s the least we could do to show off how awesome this place really is.”

Mayer envisions being able to show the changing in the foliage from summer into the fall colours in late September and early October when both the Eastern and Western Conference finals and the Stanley Cup Final itself is here.

Getting the picture?

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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