I just spoke with Jeff Byle, executive producer at Fox Sports North, who wanted to clear up some misinformation that might have been circulating through ice arenas (and the comments section of yesterday's original post) regarding FSN's decision to drop most of its remaining high school hockey broadcasts this year.
Byle reiterated what two coaches said: it was strictly a business decision for FSN and did not involve any other factors. Sluggish ad sales in a tough market combined with low viewership and high production costs sealed the deal.
While Byle would not say how much money FSN was losing yearly on its high school broadcasts, it is believed to be a substantial figure. FSN was slated to do 30 games in the 2009-10 school year (25 hockey and 5 football). While the football broadcasts and several hockey games have already been aired, 12 remaining games were cut while only two dates were spared.
"We never turned a profit … it was more how much would we endure to keep it on the air," Byle said. "Ratings weren’t what we wanted or desired. They struggled. But there are a lot of factors in that."
Byle added that FSN "took a lot of pride" in producing the games and made it clear that no other outside influences played a role in the decision.
What does this mean for a potential broadcast package of football and hockey games next season? Byle said FSN would re-evaluate, but he didn't sound optimistic that either high school sport will be on the air -- at least on FSN -- in 2010-11. "I don't hold out a ton of hope for it returning next year," he said.