I’ll admit, I don’t watch a lot of CHCH-TV programming. As much of a proud Hamiltonian as I proclaim to be, there is only so much of the same news stories I can watch in a day. Unless there is a developing story that is unfolding that peaks my interest, I don’t watch a lot of news. Not just CHCH, but anywhere.
That aside, I’m not writing to critique the programming choice of the station, or new owner Channel Zero, but to look at where programming can be expanded to expand on the station’s audience.
A few days ago CHCH expanded it’s programming repitoire to include sports. The station will start showing select NBA games, simulcast from American broadcasters. This is the first time the channel has broadcast sports programming in several years.
While the addition of sports on the weekends can only be seen as a good thing (how many old movies can we take) what would really make the station’s motto ring true would be to add local sports to the mix.
‘Live, local, latebreaking’ is the motto of the news portion of CHCH’s broadcast.
The Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL (American Hockey League) and the Hamilton Thunderbirds of the IBL (Intercounty Baseball League) are the other professional sports franchises in the city. With the hoopla surrounding the Pan Am Stadium fiasco and the threats from the Ticats about relocating, these teams are sadly overlooked. CHCH could do a lot to remind some of, and introduce to others, their local sports teams while at the same time creating some local interest content to their airwaves.
Nearly every Hamilton Tiger-Cats game can be seen on TSN since the cable sports channel has exclusive broadcast rights to the CFL. The same can’t be said of the Bulldogs or Thunderbirds, however. While radio coverage is great for both teams (every Bulldogs game is broadcast on 820 CHAM and Thunderbirds’ home games can be heard on INDI 101) television coverage for either team is virtually non-existent.
This season marked a broadcast deal between CBC and the AHL whereby ten games are being broadcast in Canada nationally, four of which featured the Bulldogs. While this is a great start to coverage, this still leaves 76 games un-televised. CHCH, being Hamilton’s major television station, has an opportunity to fill this void.
Money could be a concern as producing several hockey games a season may be more than the station can handle. With this in mind, there are other options to consider. A co-production between CHCH and Cable 14 (Hamilton’s community station) could be done to share the costs of production. Several other teams in the AHL have local television coverage of games, such as the Chicago Wolves. CHCH could pick up select broadcasts of out of town Bulldogs games to feature, much like being currently done with NBA games.
A similar model could be used for productions of Thunderbirds games. CHCH could produce a select number of Thunderbirds home games, either alone or co-produced with Cable 14.
There are eight teams in the IBL, the league in which the Thunderbirds play, all comprised from southern and north-eastern Ontario. Barrie, Brantford, Cambridge, Guelph, Kitchener, London, Ottawa and Toronto all host teams.
Now I don’t expect that CHCH would produce all of the games, or even half of them. However, airing one or two games a month would be a great start at not only diversifying CHCH’s programming, creating locally produced and local interest programming, but also in promoting local sports.
How can this be anything other than a win-win for the station, the city and the teams involved.
As a footnote, for those who happen to have satellite, the January 8, 2011 game when Hamilton visits Chicago will be televised locally by My50 WPWR-TV.