What If Someone Is Watching Their T.V.?: BSU And The Playoff TV Conundrum

The Bemidji State men’s hockey team plays a first-round playoff series starting tomorrow against Northern Michigan.

If you want to watch, you’ll have two options. You can come to the Sanford Center and see it in person — tickets start at $20 — or you can watch it online. A WCHA.tv package will cost you $44.99 for the entire playoffs.

Alternately, you can listen to it on the Beaver Radio Network, either on the radio (103.7 KKBJ in the Bemidji area), or online streaming.

The one place you won’t be able to watch it? On your TV (unless you have Chromecast or something other means of streaming video on your TV).

Even though Lakeland Public Television has broadcast every Beaver men’s home game this year, they won’t be broadcasting the playoff games. That decision was announced last month.

Why? Well, BSU thinks having the games on television is hurting attendance, so the university decided to pull the plug, at least for the playoffs.

It’s true that attendance at BSU home games has been down. I’m not sure they’ve had an actual full building yet this season.

However, crowds have gotten much better in the season’s second half. In the first half, just two games (UMD and one against Princeton) surpassed the 3,000 mark.

Since New Years, however, there’s been quite a few more. Both games last weekend against Minnesota State had over 3,000, with Saturday’s game getting 3,457 people. — the second-best game of the season (3,947 saw BSU and UMD in December). In general, too, it seems like Saturday games have done better than Friday games.

So does that mean that TV is the culprit for less than ideal attendance figures?

I guess that remains to be seen. My theory is that people outside the Bemidji area are the main audience for Lakeland broadcasts — the games are available all over the state and also in North Dakota and Wisconsin — so most of those who are watching are BSU alums or hockey fans in general who wouldn’t be able to get to the games anyway.

But again, I don’t have any hard numbers to back that up, and those numbers are much harder to come by for Lakeland since they are a public TV station and not commercial. Therefore, they don’t have ratings or advertisers to worry about when it comes to their bottom line.

So nobody knows how this will play out. If it results in a bunch of sellouts this weekend, BSU might take a long hard look at not having every game televised next year.

But then again, attendance has been methodically getting better in the season’s second half — even at games that were televised.

The ideal situation? Full buildings this weekend and beyond, plus Lakeland televises every game next year.

Regardless, I’ll be there covering the team. You can follow me all weekend at @jackhitts and, as always, read the Pioneer — spending money for a physical dead tree edition would be lovely!

EDIT: In case anyone was wondering where the title of this post came from, wonder no more, and listen to the Screaming Females because they are awesome.

7 Responses

  1. Kevin Waldhausen

    I agree, its a tough situation to quantify. Ideally, I would be all for a 75 mile or so BLACKOUT of the broadcast to entice locals to get to the game, but allowing fans and alumni of far to still be able to watch.
    Bottom line, both the city and BSU need to pay the bills to keep the building and the program going.

  2. Dan Schmidt

    As a BSU alum living in northern Iowa, I’ve really enjoyed the chance to watch BSU home games on the Austin PBS station.. If they make the frozen 4 again, I’ll be off to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch.

  3. Gary C Ross

    Nothing better than attending the game. Totally enjoy the facility and energy in the building. Watching the game on tv works so well, especially with winter travel conditions. Televised games promotes others who are not BSU alumni to become fans.

  4. BS has the most expensive tickets in the league. Once they started offering some deals the latter half of the season, along with winning, attendance picked up. Here is what I was able to gather from the various athletic websites around the league. I am not including any “premium” games or fees that may be charged.

    BSU: 45, 30, 25, 18 (12 youth)
    Alabama-Huntsville: 13, 8
    Alaska: 19, 11
    Alaska-Anchorage: 23.75, 19.50, 10
    Bowling Green: 20, 15, 13
    Ferris State: 16 (10 youth)
    Lake Superior State: 12 (6 youth)
    Mankato: 16 (8 youth)
    Michigan Tech: 18 (10 youth)
    Northern Michigan: 16, 15 (10 youth)

  5. Derek Benson

    Higher ticket prices can be because BSU does not play at a on campus facility.
    Most of the other teams in the WCHA do.
    Meaning the school receives the extra money gained by food and beverage sales, BSU does not.

    As a long time season ticket holder tv doesn’t matter to me personally.It would be nice to attend games with minum of a 3/4 full areana. Roughly 3,500.
    Butt I do see the need for tv. With the range of LLPTV it has to help recutting. And not just for hockey but the School and community in general.

    Maybe there can be something worked out that if there aren’t 3,500 tickets sold for games the tv will be blacked out in Bemidji. Just a thought.

  6. Bill

    Just having playoff hockey would increase attendance. A winning team will help attendance. Playing against geographical and historic rivals will increase attendance (that you do have the hard numbers for).

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