The BBC has hinted that it may be about carry on its coverage of ‘minority’ sports with the launch of either expanded red button coverage or a dedicated sports channel.
The success of the BBC’s Olympic coverage of smaller sports such handball and gymnastics turned every sports fan into an instant expert. However if the BBC is to launch a channel aimed at covering smaller sports it could open the door to more non summer Olympic sports including ice hockey.
Ice Hockey has had varied levels of television exposure since the end of the Superleague era in 2003. These have included weekly highlights, live recorded games and live coverage of matches. However that exposure has been inconsistent and at least partly funded by the Elite League itself.
On of the biggest gripes about the Sky Sports coverage has been the lack commitment. Often coverage has only started part way through a season and programmes have been scheduled at varying times. This new channel could increase this coverage and provide some consistency in the coverage.
Even if the idea does get off the ground and through the BBC hierarchy it is not plan sailing for ice hockey. With a proposed budget of around £20 million for the channel funding is small and many rinks in the UK are lacking in media facilities. These facilities have hampered local radio stations from broadcasting games in the past.
Nonetheless the idea has caught on with fans and is a boost for all small sports in the UK.