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Bruce Beck Still Wants to Outwork His Competition

“I certainly wasn’t more talented but I just believed you could build relationships and you could outwork people.”

Derek Futterman

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Bruce Beck has been to the Olympic Games – but not as an athlete. For 10 different iterations of the heralded worldwide sporting competition and display of cultural diffusion, Beck has been a reporter bringing viewers local and national stories.

Now in his 26th year as the lead sports anchor at NBC 4 New York (WNBC-TV), he has many stories to tell of those experiences, including watching Michael Phelps win eight gold medals in Beijing in 2008, Usain Bolt being victorious in three consecutive 100-meter Olympic dashes, and Sarah Hughes pulling off a shocking gold medal victory in Salt Lake City in 2002. Beck, like these athletes, had a passion for what he was doing and worked hard to refine his talents into an award-winning career in sports media.

“My story’s not a perfect story,” Beck said. “I’m not as talented as many of these guys in the industry, but I guess I’m a survivor.”

Beck’s official workplace is 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the acclaimed New York City landmark which headquarters NBCUniversal and the iconic Christmas Tree during the holiday season. Yet Beck often finds himself working remotely, whether that be locally from Citi Field in Queens; Yankee Stadium in the Bronx; or across the Hudson River at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ or at national events such as the Super Bowl or Kentucky Derby.

On a day where he is not scheduled to be on-site – well, that can change at a moment’s notice because of the unique fluidity of the New York marketplace. “The Big Apple” is home to over a dozen professional teams, many hallmark events and famed college and high school athletics programs.

“Once in a while there’s a boring day for the broadcast, but rarely,” Beck said. “Something always happens; something always comes up. One of the hardest jobs for me is prioritizing, ‘What is the story today?’”

Beck grew up near the New York metropolitan area in Livingston, N.J. and was enamored with sports, along with perfecting his impressions of the local broadcasters. At the age of 8, he began imitating Marv Albert; in fact, he can still recite six commercials he did. When he and his family would play basketball in the driveway, Beck would announce the games in the style of Albert, along with other commentators such as Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson and Marty Glickman.

When there were no sports to consume, he would grab a utensil from the kitchen and commentate his mother’s cooking routine, doing anything he could to use his voice and practice the trade.

“She thought maybe I was a little crazy,” Beck said, “but maybe she thought I was on to something because she never criticized me; she just laughed.”

Beck’s first bonafide broadcasting experience was in junior high school when he was responsible for delivering the morning announcements. By the time he was in high school, he was working with the school basketball team, still imitating Albert, and hosting game shows for the team on their bus rides to and from games.

In 1974, Beck matriculated at Ithaca College where he studied accounting and forayed into media-related endeavors on the side. He initially applied undecided though but still found a way on WICB, the school’s radio station, for early morning broadcasts and compiled local reports to air on station programming.

Over his time as an undergraduate student, he anchored Sunday night broadcasts and did play-by-play announcing for sporting events on campus while also working as the television sports director in his senior year. He cemented a legacy at the school by being the first nonmajor to win the National Honor Society AERho Award for Outstanding Broadcaster; however, Ithaca College was not his first choice. Beck had hoped to attend Northwestern University but his request for admission was turned down in a letter that remains preserved at his desk.

“When I was the keynote speaker about eight years ago for St. John’s University Staten Island Campus… I held it up,” Beck said of the letter. “I read from it. I use it as the power of rejection.”

Upon his graduation from the school four years later, Beck did not waste any time entering into the professional world in a job with Suburban Cablevision TV3 in East Orange, N.J. The broadcast outlet gave viewers the ability to watch local athletics programming, taping high school and collegiate sporting events and subsequently airing them, utilizing remote production trucks and commentators.

In addition to live games, the channel broadcast talk shows, one of which was titled Time In that was hosted by Beck and another he co-hosted called Scorecard. Eventually, he was working as the assistant sports director alongside Bob Ley, who was the outlet’s sports director and the person who initially hired Beck.

Ley, however, departed Suburban Cablevision TV3 in 1979 to be one of the first employees for a new all-sports network called ESPN. It turned out to be the place where Ley primarily worked for the majority of his career, hosting national shows such as SportsCenter and Outside the Lines to millions of viewers around the world.

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Bruce Beck is a big believer in trying to outwork his competition Photo provided by Beck

Meanwhile, Beck, who questioned whether or not Ley had made a prudent decision, had been promoted to sports director. For the next three years, he was working to elevate the channel’s sports coverage and manage its team of broadcast professionals as he continued to provide play-by-play commentary for select matchups.

“It built the mechanics and it built kind of the framework for my career today in terms of how much attention to detail I take and how serious I take my preparation,” Beck said. “Bob Ley – can you think of a better mentor? One of ESPN’s greatest ever in terms of integrity, in terms of broadcasting. I was really lucky.”

In his youth, Beck had imagined what it would be like to work with Marv Albert – and those early aspirations turned into a reality when he entered what former New York Knicks public address voice John F. X. Condon referred to as “the magical world of Madison Square Garden.”

Stepping into “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Beck covered games and worked as an in-studio host for MSG Networks, contributing to events including Golden Gloves boxing, the Millrose Games and the National Horse Show. Additionally, Beck was the primary interviewer for the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, the latter for whom he also hosted television studio coverage.

“I was the youngest guy working on the airwaves in New York,” Beck said. “It was the opportunity of a lifetime. I still had a high-pitched voice; I was still far from accomplished but I was able to get reps in a tremendously professional environment and I continued to improve throughout the years.”

As a reporter, Beck had the opportunity to interview prominent figures in the world of professional sports including Patrick Ewing, Mark Messier and Bill Russell. Having the ability to elicit thoughtful and cohesive answers from interviewees was always Beck’s focus, and although he thoroughly prepared for each interview, there are instances where it was best to go with the flow of the conversation.

“I did an interview with Dennis Rodman at the Garden and I said to him, ‘Dennis, this is the best offensive start you’ve ever had to a season. Are you happy with your offense?’,” Beck remembered, “and he said: ‘Man, I won’t be happy until I’m 6 feet underground.’ I took all my notes and I just threw them in the air, kind of, and I just said: ‘Why? How come? What made you feel this way?’”

To this day, Beck follows the three principles of interviewing he learned at a young age; these are: (1) – Asking the question everyone wants to know. (2) – Asking the question nobody else will ask. (3) – Deriving a follow-up question based on a previous response.

Effectively interviewing comes from active listening and comprehending answers in the moment to guide the discourse. Similar principles apply when it comes to live game broadcasts in which one duty of the play-by-play announcer is to ensure the color commentator is properly positioned to offer their esoteric knowledge and informed opinions.

No matter the sport – whether it was filling in for Sam Rosen on the boxing broadcast; to calling college football and basketball games; or covering the Yankees in different capacities – Beck was ready for the challenge and to duly perform his role.

“I was always taught that the color man is the star so if you could do a solid job as a professional play-by-play guy and set up the color man,” Beck said. “If he had a good broadcast, you had a good broadcast. We had a who’s who of announcers that was working for MSG, and I was just fortunate to be around them.”

In 1994 at the age of 38, Beck’s contract with MSG Networks was not renewed in what could have been a significant blow to his career without his inherent persistence and drive to succeed. In what some might call a devastating setback, Beck, who was disappointed, tried to remain optimistic that he would find a way to succeed.

“Jerry Eisenberg once said to me, and this kind of tied into how to treat people too, ‘You better remember us on the way up, because you’re sure as hell going to need us on the way down,’” Beck remembered. “He also said, ‘If you’re always on a high note, when you do come down you’re going to have an uncushioned crash.’”

Beck began announcing Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events as one of the promotion company’s first announcers, starting with UFC 4 held at the Expo Square Pavilion in Tulsa, Okla. His previous background commentating combat sports also helped land him a gig as a commentator for Showtime Championship Boxing, contributing during the network’s fight weeks around the country.

In addition to these jobs, Beck also called harness racing for ESPN, college basketball for Prime Network with Al McGuire and Rollie Massimino and college football and basketball for CBS Sports.

He was often on the move, taking a total of 102 flights in 1997 – some of which he boarded as the jetway was moving away from the terminal – and built what he says was a “mini-empire.” Through all the minutiae and spontaneity of his work schedule, Beck focused on embracing new challenges and building relationships in the process.

“I did anything that was asked upon me because it was just a matter of preparing, having great energy and being able to work with your color guy and knowing your material well enough that you could carry a broadcast,” Beck said. “It was fun; it was invigorating.”

At the same time, Beck was the host of Sports Images and Comcast Sportstalk for CN8 with its studios located in Union, N.J. Working other freelance jobs during the day, he found himself having to race to the studios four nights per week for the latter program and would sometimes arrive two minutes before the show was set to hit the air.

“I believed in outworking people,” Beck said. “I certainly wasn’t more talented but I just believed you could build relationships and you could outwork people and you could be up at 2 or 3 in the morning and you could study and you could do any assignment.”

By the fall of 1997, he received an audition with Dennis Swanson, the president and general manager of WNBC-TV New York, for the role of weekend sports anchor with the network. Shortly thereafter, Beck’s “three hard years” ended when he was officially hired by the network. He remains there nearly 26 years later.

“Local reporting [has] changed over the years but the secret sauce really hasn’t changed,” Beck explained. “The trust of your audience; relationships with those people you cover; and good old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting. Being in the trenches; in the locker room; on the ballfields.”

Beck’s approach to local reporting is in identifying the key story and finding unique ways in which to present them, doing so in longform on the Sunday night sports show Sports Final. As an employee of a local news affiliate, he seeks to find aspects of sports bridging news in his reporting as well, telling stories to viewers such as New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft obtaining and delivering masks to New York City at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stories like that, which were told in the months without live sporting events, helped NBC 4 New York win the prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for its reporting during the early stage of the pandemic and continues to make the local network a trusted voice in the marketplace.

“You’re still covering a multitude of things on a Sunday night,” Beck explained, “but you get two, usually, longform stories with a guest that you’re going to cover – and that’s the way I usually approach it. We’ve had a lot of athletes; a lot of coaches [and] some of the premier guests around. Other times, I’ll get a writer who’s covering the team who might have the better inside scoop. We’re trying to show depth and we’re trying to give [viewers] a behind-the-scenes look.”

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Bruce Beck has worked at NBC 4 in New York in addition to several other roles during his storied career Photo provided by Beck

Over the years with NBC 4 New York, Beck has covered events both near and far with the mission of accentuating local perspectives and giving viewers unique access. The ability to do this, though, comes through establishing and maintaining mutually-beneficial relationships.

For example, Beck visited the home of former St. John’s University and NBA head coach Lou Carnesecca where he conducted an exclusive interview with him reflecting on his career. They had fostered a relationship when Beck was hosting Carnesecca’s eponymously-titled show on MSG Network.

Although the industry has considerably shifted in terms of the creation and distribution of content, motivated reporters like Beck are resolute in their mission to uncover and present compelling stories – all while being cognizant of their audience.

“You have to be innovative; you have to be creative,” Beck said. “I think you have to reimagine, and that’s what I’ve tried to do and that’s what I’ve encouraged younger people to do. You’ve got to reimagine in today’s day and age, but there’s still a place in my mind for local news although it’s redefined.”

As a reporter, Beck’s use of social media is an imperative aspect of his job, especially in being able to connect with viewers at a moment’s notice. When he is not promoting upcoming broadcasts or breaking news in the field, he uses the platform to break the metaphorical third wall between followers and professional media members. By giving them an inside look as to just where and how he does his job, he communicates and displays the story within the story; a sort of metadrama encompassing the craft.

“Take them to places they can’t go, and tell them things about you that they don’t know,” Beck said. “That’s what people want from me on social media. ‘Where am I? Am I [in] the Yankee locker room? Is this a cool spot at Dodger Stadium? Let me show them something they can’t normally get to.’”

In addition to working with NBC 4 New York, Beck’s versatility has allowed him to take on other roles over the years, including an eight-year stint hosting programming on NBA-TV. He currently works with Rutgers University on its digital athletics programming, along with freelancing as a commentator for Top Rank boxing coverage airing on ESPN+. Beck’s work ethic and ability to adapt helped him in his quest to succeed in the New York marketplace, interacting with players, coaches and other team personnel to create meaningful, impactful connections.

“I never feel like I can cover everything but I love to be in the field; that’s what I’m known for,” he said. “I’m known for outhustling people and being at every possible event I can get to, and yet I know I still don’t do a good enough job because it’s impossible.”

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Beck has covered several Olympic Games during his career Photo provided by Beck

Six years ago, Beck pioneered the Bruce Beck Broadcasting Camp, a place for aspiring sportscasters to learn from industry professionals, gain experience in various different roles, and become inspired by the craft.

For the 15 years prior, Beck held a similar broadcasting camp with sportscaster Ian Eagle with attendees including MLB Network host Scott Braun, ESPN NHL reporter Emily Kaplan and NBC News correspondent Jesse Kirsch.

Some of the guests who have attended the program in recent years include MSG Networks/ESPN basketball commentator Mike Breen, NFL on FOX play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt and YES Network reporter Meredith Marakovits. This year’s program begins on July 17 and takes months of planning and coordinating for Beck, who is assisted by his wife Janet.

Whether it is mentoring students at the camp or on late-night phone calls on his way home from work; or volunteering with different charities to help those less fortunate, Beck recognizes the value and importance in being a source of goodwill. Even if other people see it as being naïve, Beck continues to find a way to exude a sense of optimism while working in “The City That Never Sleeps” for over 40 years.

“You can’t change the world but you can impact lives,” Beck said. “….My father and mother taught me [that] receiving is nice, giving is nicer [and] giving back is nicest of all. My parents, who are the foundation for everything that I’ve ever accomplished; they taught me that and I’ve tried to pass that on to my two kids and my five grandkids.”

In March 2017, Beck was the winner of the Jessica Savitch Award of Distinction for Excellence in Journalism from Ithaca College – his alma-mater. The honor was not only for his career as a multimedia journalist, but also as a source of support and mentorship for aspiring professionals looking to work in sports media. Even though studying in upstate New York was not his first choice, the foundation he built in college and has extended throughout his ongoing professional career is surely deserving of a gold medal.

“It’s easy to get up when there’s a storyline that changes every day in New York and there are these teams that are striving for excellence that [don’t] always achieve it,” Beck said. “That drive; there’s dreams of success and fears of failure for all of us every day, and I think that drives me and it drives the athletes and it drives the coaches and I think it even drives the fans. I haven’t lost it yet; I haven’t lost my desire to generate good news, good stories and cover the people that are worthy of it.”

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Beyond The Mask: Henrik Lundqvist Embraced 2nd Career in Sports Media

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal.”

Derek Futterman

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Plucking the strings of an acoustic guitar, Henrik Lundqvist found himself beneath the bright lights once again, poised to put on a worthy performance. Just as he aimed to stop pucks from going in the net as the star goaltender of the New York Rangers for 15 seasons, Lundqvist sought to captivate viewers as half of a musical duo featuring former NHL forward Paul Bissonnette.

Their performance of “Good Riddance” by Green Day was in tribute to Rick Tocchet, a former NHL on TNT studio analyst who recently departed the network to serve as interim head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

Lundqvist serves as a studio analyst for TNT’s coverage of the NHL, breaking down players and teams throughout the broadcast and bringing his own unique style to the set. His pursuit of a post-playing career in sports media was no guarantee from the moment he retired in August 2021; in fact, he never intended to stop playing the game and competing for a Stanley Cup championship at that time.

During the 2019-20 season, Lundqvist had lost playing time to young goaltenders Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, and by the year’s end, his deal was bought out by the team. In an effort to continue playing, Lundqvist signed a contract with the Washington Capitals – marking the first time in his NHL career that he would not step between the pipes for the Rangers.

Lundqvist never played a game for the team though, as it was discovered in a medical exam that he would need open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve while also having an aortic root and ascending aortic replacement. One month after the successful five-hour operation, he was back on the ice rehabbing and attempting to make a full recovery – but a few months in, he began to feel unexpected chest pain. Following a medical checkup, Lundqvist was told he had inflammation around his heart caused by exertion. It was a significant setback that required him to step off the ice, take off his goaltender equipment and rest for several months.

After discussions with his family and friends, Lundqvist determined that the risk of taking the ice outweighed the rewards and officially stepped away from the game. Rather than conjuring hypothetical scenarios wherein he did not experience the misfortune and played for the Capitals, Lundqvist looked to the future amid the ongoing global pandemic and thought about how he could best enjoy his retirement.

“I was just mentally in a very good place,” Lundqvist said. “I didn’t have a choice; I guess that makes it easier sometimes when the decision is made because you can’t go back-and-forth – ‘Should I?’ ‘Should I not?’ Yeah, I wanted to play but it was just not meant to be for me.”

Before any definitive resolution on his future endeavors was made though, the Rangers announced that the team would retire Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a pregame ceremony during the 2021-22 season, making him just the 11th player bestowed that honor in franchise history. As a five-time NHL All-Star selection, 2011 Vezina Trophy winner, and holder of numerous franchise records, Lundqvist had the accolades to merit this profound distinction.

Moreover, he was an important component in growing the game of hockey and contributing to the greater community, serving as the official spokesperson for the Garden of Dreams Foundation and founder of the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation. He also was a two-time recipient of the organization’s prestigious Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, honoring the player “who goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

Throughout the night, attendees regaled Lundqvist with chants of “Hen-rik!” and were treated to flashbacks of some of his memorable career moments. The night was of monumental importance for Lundqvist, during which he expressed his gratitude to the Rangers’ organization, former teammates and fans. Then, Lundqvist — referred to as “The King” — promptly took his place among team legends beneath the concave ceiling of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

“When I look back at my career, I know, to me, it was all about preparation; how I practiced and how I prepared for each game at practice,” Lundqvist said. “There’s no regrets, and I hope people, when they think about how I played, [know] that it was 100% heart and commitment to the game.”

Before this ceremony though, Lundqvist and Rangers owner James Dolan had held several meetings with one another. The purpose of these conversations was to determine the best way for Lundqvist to remain involved with the team, its fans, and the community. In the end, he was named as a lead studio analyst on MSG Networks’ broadcasts of New York Rangers hockey before the start of the 2021-22 season: the start of his foray in sports media.

This past summer, Lundqvist negotiated a new deal with Madison Square Garden Sports and Madison Square Garden Entertainment in which he maintained his in-studio responsibilities while increasing involvement in other areas of its sports and entertainment ventures. In this new role, Lundqvist supports the business operations for both companies, assisting in digital content development, alumni relations, and partner and sponsor activities.

When Lundqvist is not in the studio or the office, he can often be found at Madison Square Garden taking in New York Rangers hockey, New York Knicks basketball, or one of the arena’s renowned musical performances. Usually, when he is in attendance, he is shown on the arena’s center-hung video board as an “NYC Celebrity” and receives a thunderous ovation from the crowd.

“The network is just part of it, but it feels great to come there,” Lundqvist said of Madison Square Garden. “Every time I go there – to see the people that I’ve known for so long – but also I love that place; I love The Garden. I think the energy [and] the variety of things that happen there is something I really appreciate. It feels really good to be a part of that.”

Sitting alongside former teammate and studio analyst Steve Valiqutte and sportscaster John Giannone, Lundqvist appears in the MSG Networks studios, located across the street from the arena, for select New York Rangers games. From the onset, he brought his allure and expertise to the set and appealed to viewers – so much so that national networks quickly began to take notice.

“I enjoy watching hockey [and] talking hockey, but the main thing to me is the team; the people that you work with,” Lundqvist said. “The guys on the panel [and the] crew behind. I really enjoy that part of it and having a lot of fun off-camera.”

One month later, Lundqvist was on his first national broadcast for the NHL on TNT where he and Bissonnette famously performed a cover of “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica that went viral on social media. It had been known that Lundqvist was a musician, famously performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in his Rangers uniform to celebrate the end of the 2012-13 NHL lockout.

In fact, during his retirement ceremony, the Rangers gifted him with a custom-made guitar painted by David Gunnarsson, the same artist who used to paint Lundqvist’s goalie masks.

Aside from occasional music performances, Lundqvist brings an esoteric base of knowledge to the NHL on TNT panel as its only goaltender. Whether it be through player breakdowns, interviews, or dialogue with other analysts, Lundqvist has a perspective to which few professional hockey players can relate. There are various goaltenders among local studio panels surrounding live hockey game broadcasts, and Lundqvist is in a unique situation with MSG Networks in that he and Valiquette are both former goaltenders. Yet on Turner Sports’ national coverage, he is the only voice speaking to this different part of the game.

“It’s not a coincidence you see a lot of goalies working [on] panels and analyzing the game because that’s a huge part of playing in goal,” Lundqvist explained. “Yes, you need to stop the puck, but a huge part of being a goalie is analyzing what’s going on. We can never really dictate the play so you need to analyze what’s happening right in front of you.”

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NHL ON TNT STUDIO

In broadcasting at both the local and national level, Lundqvist is cognizant of the differences in each network’s studio programs. Lundqvist says appearing on the MSG Networks studio panel is more about being direct with the viewer, whereas the NHL on TNT views its panel as being conversational in nature. With Turner Sports, Lundqvist also asks his colleagues about the different teams around the league since he is most familiar with the Rangers both as a former player and studio analyst.

“I’m closer to the Rangers; I see more of what’s going on,” Lundqvist stated. “When you work [national] games, maybe you focus in on teams on the West Coast or [part] of the league you don’t see as often. You try to talk to the other guys on the panel and the crew and figure out things that are interesting about those teams.”

Hockey is a team sport, and Lundqvist felt grateful to play with his teammates and face his competitors over the years. Now as an analyst though, it is his job to analyze their games and critique them when necessary; however, he does not try to be excessively critical.

Lundqvist knows the trials and tribulations associated with the sport and can relate to scenarios many players face on a nightly basis. Therefore, he thinks about his own experience before giving an opinion, especially a critique, instantiating it with comprehensible, recondite knowledge and/or by recounting a similar situation.

“I’d much rather give them positive feedback obviously because I know it is a tough game,” Lundqvist said, “and sometimes it might look like an easy mistake, but if you can give the viewer a better explanation of why he did that, they might have a different view of that mistake.”

Now metaphorically being beyond the goalie mask, Lundqvist’s vision of the game has evidently shifted. He discerns just how intense the schedule is and the rapid pace of the game, axioms he was aware of while playing but inherently avoided thinking about. He has implemented his refined viewpoint of the game accordingly into his analysis, simultaneously utilizing the mindset and savvy he cultivated on the ice. It is, quite simply, a balancing act.

“I think people can be pretty quick to jump on guys and critique them,” Lundqvist said. “That’s where maybe you take an extra look and try to understand why it happened and give those reasons. I think that’s where it helps if you played the game [for] a long time and just love the game [because] you have a pretty good understanding of why guys react a certain way.”

The challenge tacitly embedded in the jobs of most studio analysts – Lundqvist’s included – is in presenting the information to the audience in a manner through which it learns without being confused. It is a delicate craft that takes time and genuine understanding to master, especially related to promulgating hockey analytics as Valiquette does on MSG Networks and within his company, Clear Sight Analytics.

“There’s a lot of educated viewers out there, but there’s also a lot of people that maybe don’t watch as much hockey,” Lundqvist said, “so you want to find that middle ground where you kind of educate both sides.”

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LUNDQVIST 4

By broadcasting both locally and nationally in addition to working in a specially-designed business operations role, Lundqvist is staying around the rink in his retirement while facilitating the growth of hockey. Despite the profusion of young talent, dynamic action and jaw-dropping plays, viewership of the sport on ESPN and TNT’s linear channels has dropped 22% from last season, according to a report by Sports Business Journal.

For Lundqvist though, he does not feel much has changed from playing regarding his responsibility to advance the reach and appeal of the sport. He played professionally for 20 years, beginning his career in his home country of Sweden, primarily in the Swedish Elite League (SEL). In the 2004-05 season, his final campaign before arriving in New York City, Lundqvist had won the award for most valuable player. Furthermore, he was recognized as the best goalie and best player, leading Frölunda HC to its second Elitserien championship in three seasons.

His NHL debut came five years after he was selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers but unlike many rookies over the years, he came polished and prepared to embrace the lights of Broadway. Following an injury to starting goaltender Kevin Weekes, Lundqvist was inserted into the starting lineup and, from that moment on, virtually never came out.

By the end of his first year, he had been named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and was a Vezina Trophy finalist for best goaltender. Additionally, he remains the only goaltender to begin his NHL career with seven consecutive 30-plus win seasons.

“I think the league is doing a great job of growing the game,” Lundqvist said. “In the end, it comes down to the product and right now, it’s a great product. I feel really good about, the best way I can, to promote the game [by] talking about it, but… it feels like I’ve been doing that for 20 years.”

One means through which Lundqvist attempts to grow the game is within the studio demos he performs with the NHL on TNT, displaying different facets of the game in a technical manner. The show also embraces the characteristics of their analysts and implements them in lighthearted segments, such as zamboni races, putting competitions, Swedish lessons and, of course, musical performances.

“I’m huge on mindset and the pressure,” Lundqvist said. “I love to talk about that type of stuff and give the viewer a better understanding of what goes through their heads. In terms of personality, I don’t know if I can say [that] I’m a serious guy because I love to have fun and laugh and do fun things.”

Lundqvist thoroughly enjoys what he is doing both locally and nationally, and he ensures he surrounds himself with people he wants to be around. There are plenty of other broadcast opportunities for former hockey players, such as moving into the booth as a color commentator or between the benches as a rinkside reporter. At this moment though, he is more focused on being immersed in his current roles, performing them to the best of his ability while ensuring he allocates time to spend with friends and family.

“I see myself more as an analyst in the studio more than traveling around and being in the rink,” he said. “I think that’s another thing with the schedule; it works really well with my schedule to have one or two commitments with the networks, but then I have other things going on in my life that I commit to.”

Plenty of comparisons can be drawn between playing professional hockey and covering the sport from the studio in terms of preparation and synergy. Yet the end result is not as clearly defined since “winning” in television is quantifiably defined as generating ratings and revenue. Undoubtedly, Lundqvist is focused on doing what he can to bolster hockey’s popularity; however, he also wants to enjoy this new phase of his career being around the game he loves.

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“In sports, you win or you lose,” Lundqvist explained. “With TV, you want to be yourself [and] you want to get your point out – but at the same time, if you do it at the same time you’re having a good time, I feel like that’s good TV.”

Once their careers conclude, many athletes think about pursuing a post-playing career and oftentimes end up taking on a role in sports broadcasting. On MSG Networks alone, there are plenty of former players who take part in studio coverage on live game broadcasts, such as Martin Biron of the Buffalo Sabres, Bryce Salvador of the New Jersey Devils, and Matt Martin of the New York Islanders. At the national level, Turner Sports employs Paul Bissonnette, Anson Carter, and Wayne Gretzky for its studio broadcasts, while ESPN’s top studio crew includes Mark Messier and Chris Chelios.

All of these former professional hockey players had an obligation to regularly speak with media members, answering questions about games and the season at large. Lundqvist maintained a professional relationship with journalists and beat reporters, and he most enjoyed taking questions when the team was doing well. Regardless of what the end result of a game was though, he had a responsibility to divulge his thoughts and, in turn, be subject to criticism and/or negative feedback.

His stellar career and persona all came from emanating a passion for the game – and it continues to manifest itself beyond the television screen. Listening to those passionate about the game discuss it usually engenders euphony and lucidity to viewers, analogous to the sound of the puck hitting the pads or entering the glove. It is a timbre Lundqvist created 27,076 times throughout his NHL career (regular season and playoffs) in preventing goals, and one he now aims to explain en masse.

“The reason why I kept going to the rink and put all the hours in was because I really enjoyed it,” Lundqvist said. “If you decide to go into media or whatever it might be, I think the bottom line is [that] you have to enjoy it and make sure you have good people around you.”

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Should the NBA Nationalize Local TV Rights Like MLS?

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

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Diamond Sports has been anything but a diamond in the sports world. As subscribers leave cable and satellite for streaming services, companies are dropping RSNs nationwide because they are too expensive to carry. This has caused an impending bankruptcy for the company, which owns the local rights to dozens of sports teams nationwide. It is also putting the NBA, NHL, and MLB at major financial risk. 

In the short term, it is known that teams will still broadcast on their RSNs even if they aren’t getting the paychecks they were promised in previous rights deals. This will affect teams’ ability to pay players and could even create an unfair advantage among the haves of the sports world like the Yankees and Lakers and the have-nots. The NFL doesn’t face the same problems that the other leagues are facing because its rights have been nationalized.

With the NFL’s continued television dominance, college conferences also bundling up games together for more money, and the MLS guaranteeing themselves television revenue after packaging local and national rights together, could we see the other leagues follow suit? It is an option that is much easier said than done but it seems like we are moving closer to it becoming reality. 

The NBA’s upcoming rights negotiations will be this transformational idea’s first testing grounds.

The biggest problem the NBA and other leagues would face are that the local rights to all of its teams don’t expire at the same time. If the league were to sign a deal that included giving all local rights to a streamer, the amount which the league was getting paid would be very unique year after year. It would be crazy for a streamer to pay a huge chunk of money to the NBA all at once if the number of teams they have local rights to changes every year.

It would also be insane to pay an astronomical amount if the streamer is only getting the local rights to small-market teams like the Cavs and the Pistons. A major market team like the Lakers doesn’t renew their local rights until 2032. We’re still in 2023. How does that affect the league’s operating costs? 

The NBA would also have to figure out whether teams whose rights don’t expire yet deserve to be included in the pot of money garnered from selling local rights to a streamer. Whether they are or they aren’t, does it put each team at different competitive advantages and/or disadvantages when trying to acquire free agents or front-office personnel?

One of the most interesting puzzles to figure out is what influence a league owner like Washington’s Ted Leonsis has in this potential measure when all is said and done. Leonsis just acquired complete control of the regional sports network — currently named NBC Sports Washington — that broadcasts Wizards and Capitals games for millions of dollars, although the exact amount remains undisclosed.

What does Leonsis do with his network if his team’s games can no longer air there? Can his team opt out of participating in a potential league offering? Or if the games continue to air on his network but are simulcasted locally on the streamer that wins local rights on a national scale, does the streamer have the ability to pay less money for rights?

If so, does that make the deal as lucrative for the NBA? And what does that mean for retransmission fees that cable companies like Comcast pay to Leonsis and other RSNs they’re still carrying?

The league will face a similar problem with the Lakers, Bulls, Knicks and other franchises that either wholly own or partially own a part of the RSNs where they broadcast their games. 

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions which is why they are written here in this column. Unfortunately for the leagues, they don’t have the answers either. But if the NBA figures out a way to nationalize their product even more and make streaming games more appealing by ending local blackouts, it’ll benefit the game more than it hurts the game. 

NBA, NHL, and MLB games are still some of the highest-rated programs locally in many markets when you look at how they rate vs. other cable and broadcast offerings. But at this point, the ability to charge everyone for a program that only ten percent of subscribers are watching is a losing business proponent.

The leagues should start from scratch and sell a mass package of games for maximum profit. It gives fans a more centralized location to watch their favorite teams and puts the leagues on a much more steady path than where they could be headed sooner rather than later.

Diamond in the rough to sparkling jewel of light? Only time will tell.

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BSM Writers

Do You Have Affirmations Of Gratitude?

“We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right?”

Jeff Caves

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Having gratitude for your life is all the rage. If you, like me, have trouble starting your day with positive affirmations and maintaining a positive outlook about your job, read on! 

We are told to be grateful for what we have and remember it could be worse. That feels like a really low bar, right? Here is another version. Try a few affirmations of gratitude instead.

“I HAVE A JOB.”

With interest rates rising, inflation increasing, and spending down; corporations are laying people off. PayPal laid off 7% of its entire workforce. Amazon let 18,000 go. Alphabet (Google) said goodbye to 12,000 jobs. Radio sales managers need to hire people like you – experienced sellers with a track record of bringing home the bacon. 

I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER.”

You solve a problem for your company when it comes to revenue. You know people, and you sell advertising better than anything they can come up with…so far. 

Yes, they are trying to replace you, but Zoom Info reports iHeart’s self-serve spot buying service,  AdBuilder, is doing under 5 million in business. You have time to solidify your value. Be happy you are the rainmaker. 

I WORK IN THE PEOPLE BUSINESS.”

Sports talk radio is the ultimate companion to millions of listeners. They aren’t robots, and your stations improve their lives by talking about what they care about 24/7. Celebrate selling access to callers, Twitter followers and FANS who go to games. You also get to work with local celebrities that everybody knows but you know best. We all need a connection to other people and want to be seen and heard. 

“I GET TO CHANGE HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF.”

In this job, you determine your value, feelings about your work, and who you work with. You get to set a strategy and talk to the businesspeople you want to help and do business with. It’s like running your own business with a tremendous support staff. Try to do it independently, and you will appreciate accounting, traffic, production, and sales assistance. Those wins produce deposits in your bank account.  

I HAVE COMPETITION!”

That format competitor across the street does things differently and sometimes better than you or tries to imitate you and looks terrible. They motivate you to beat them to a new account or put a moat around your best clients so they can’t be touched. They keep you sharp and willing to try new things. Good competition schemes to take money from your station, and your management needs you to protect them. And they also provide a place for you to work one day. The FTC wants to eliminate non-competes so you can walk across the street this year.  

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