07 February 2011

Curling Television Coverage in the US.

According to Wikipedia (which we ALL know is a reliable source of information, right?) The Continental Cup (of Curling) "is a curling tournament held annually between teams from North America against teams from the rest of the world. Each side is represented by six teams (three women's teams and three men's teams), and compete using a unique points system. The tournament is modeled after golf's Ryder Cup. The event is held at the beginning of the curling season and is not held in the same season as the Olympics."

I debate the "beginning of the season" part of this description - maybe in other years it was - but otherwise this is pretty accurate.  The 2011 Continental Cup was held in mid-January, in St. Albert, Alberta.  Four Canadian and two American teams made up the North American squad.  Teams from across Europe, as well as one team from China, comprised Team World.  

That's right.  I said there were two American teams there.  Teams skipped by Erika Brown and Pete Fenson - escuse me, I mean Olympic bronze medalist Pete Fenson - were on the victorious North American team.  This historic victory - the last day of the event was essentially meaningless - was broadcast live all over Canada.

For many of you in the United States, this is the first you are hearing of this competition.  In fact, there was little or no coverage of the Continental Cup in the United States.  A search for the term "Continental Cup" on espn.com yields a lot of soccer results.... and not a single curling one.  

I decided to go a little farther in my search.  I did a search for "curling" on espn.com.   No articles related to the sport of curling could be found.  There were some photos.... from the Paralympics.  March 20, 2010 is the most recent curling photo that "The Worldwide Leader in Sports" could muster.  

To their credit, USA Curling is trying.  They did release,,, er, a press release right after the clinched victory, and several others during the event.  

But why was sports media in the United States so apathetic?   This report from the Olympics shows that curling gets ratings, stronger than any other sport shown on their cable outlets, including downhill skiing, the Nordic events, and ice hockey.  That's right - curling > hockey.  

And yet American sports networks are not embracing curling.   With one exception.  Universal Sports, which is mostly an online broadcaster owned by NBC, is showing the World Curling Championships on their site. In fact, you can even get a replay of last year's Men's worlds final, between Kevin Koe of Canada and Thomas Ulsrud Torger Nergård of Norway - NOT American teams - if you'd like, even today.  It isn't the best situation, but it's a good, solid start.  

Some of the USCA Men's Playdowns, held in Rochester, NY, were also broadcast on the Internet.   Mostly used for club curling broadcasts, this justin.tv channel is one of the better curling broadcasts done by a club. I'm not just saying that because I know Joe Calabrese.  I'm saying that because the USCA allowed Joe access to their website so THEY could use his stream.  

I sincerely don't know what we need to do to in the United States to get the attention of sports media.  I look forward to your suggestions below.

1 comment:

  1. ESPN3 streams a lot of second- and third-tier spectator sports; stuff like Field Hockey, Cricket, and Squash. If they can stream that, they can certainly stream curling. I wrote to their programming department urging them to show curling. I would encourage everybody else to do the same. I think if enough people contacted them they would consider showing some curling programming.

    It's worth noting that ESPN and TSN have some sort of partnership. One would think it wouldn't be a problem for ESPN3 to just piggyback on the curling coverage TSN is already providing their subscribers.