SBD/Issue 81/Sports Media

HBO's Greenburg Says Another NHL-Themed "24/7" A "No-Brainer"

Greenburg Thinks "24/7" Series Can
Become A "Game-Changer" For HBO

HBO was "so enamored with its groundbreaking experiment with the NHL and vice versa, it seems certain the relationship will continue with a follow-up next season," according to Scott Burnside of ESPN.com. The reaction to "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic" was so positive, HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg said that the network "couldn't walk away from the project." Greenburg: "You can't do that to the American public." He added a "24/7 Part II" is a "no-brainer." Capitals VP & GM George McPhee said that he "would recommend to any other NHL GM or team that they take advantage of the opportunity should it present itself." McPhee: "It might have been the most fun I've ever had in this business." NHL COO John Collins "thinks the series has the potential to be a defining moment for the league." Collins: "Hopefully it'll be a game-changer for us." Greenburg said, "They're ecstatic at the NHL. We brought the game life." He added that he "thinks the '24/7' series might be a 'game-changer' for the network in terms of opening doors to other sports like baseball, which had previously been reluctant to provide the access the NHL ultimately allowed" (ESPN.com, 1/7). In N.Y., Larry Brooks wrote, "If HBO's bang-up, compelling '24/7' is going to become a standard lead-in to the Winter Classic, then it's likely clubs will be chosen to play in the NHL's signature Jan. 1 outdoor game by virtue of their willingness to provide access to the cameras and microphones, or eliminated thereto." An NHL official, when asked whether the league has the power to compel cooperation with HBO, said, "No, but we do control who is selected to play in the Winter Classic" (N.Y. POST, 1/9).

COOL AS ICE: SI.com's Stu Hackel wrote "24/7" was "exquisite." HBO "made great use of their access by bringing viewers into areas of the game that most fans never see: the dressing room, practice facilities, planes and buses, players’ homes, meetings and strategy sessions, the awarding of the shovel and hard hat after games and ... lots of terrific on ice audio of players and officials." The "mini-portraits of the players, especially those who are not the great stars" Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, "were revealing" (SI.com, 1/7).  In Pittsburgh, Rob Rossi wrote, "The time for a first-rate NHL Films is now, because the success of '24/7' showed that the want of people -- regular people, not just die-hard hockey fans -- is expertly executed specialty programs such as what HBO churned out the past four weeks." The NHL needs to "continue capturing that passion" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 1/9).

COLD SHOULDER? In Edmonton, John Mackinnon wrote of the Winter Classic, "Positioning this event as part of the 'grow-the-game' effort in the U.S., particularly in terms of TV ratings, is understandable." But distancing it from the '03 Canadiens-Oilers Heritage Classic, "at least in a marketing sense, by identifying the Buffalo game as the first of its kind, or necessarily situating the Winter Classic in the U.S., excluding the Canadian teams from the rotation, seems wrong." Mackinnon: "Yes, Calgary will play host to a second Heritage Classic, but given the NHL's marketing approach, to borrow a Seinfeld-ism, it seems like 'lesser babka.' That's not right" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 1/9).

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