Who also has NHL/MLB overlap?
Before I share my opinion on that, I thought it would be worthwhile to see which TV markets run into the same type of problem, in which their local station that shows selected MLB games is an NBC affiliate like WKYC and may be forced into the same position with the NHL obligation.
A little research shows the following MLB teams' home markets also have an NBC affiliate as their local station beyond the usual cable channel option: None. As it turns out, most MLB teams who have a local affiliate, a couple are CBS stations, but the majority are MyNetwork TV or The CW.
WKYC is apparently the only NBC station in the country stuck in this predicament.
In all likelihood, this is an issue that comes up occasionally crossing over other sports as well.
Probably the best thing to do is for the professional sports leagues - as tough as it may be for them to do - to somehow allow some leeway in these situations (an alternate channel, internet streaming availability, etc.).
I feel bad for the local affiliate to an extent here, because WKYC is in a no-win deal - they're going to get complaints from NHL fans if the Kings-Blues game is not shown, which for the most part it wasn't due to the Indians' afternoon game against the Rangers, or Indians fans who don't have cable would be up in arms because they're missing out on a chance to see the Tribe on free TV. WKYC has some leniency with pre-emption of national programming, but not in this instance.
You have to be more flexible for your audience. NFL fans lament how ridiculous, for example, it is for CBS or Fox to leave the last few minutes of an exciting 1 p.m. Sunday game - or not join it at all - because of "contractual obligations".
Perhaps doing what's best for the audience, and closing these loopholes in the first place, would be a good place to start. That doesn't help NHL fans in Northeast Ohio who were denied a Stanley Cup playoff game Sunday in its entirety on NBC, of course, but hopefully this serves as a lesson learned for all parties involved.
- Chris Lillstrung