It’s certainly not unprecedented for a broadcast to lose its play-by-play announcer and analyst. Sometimes an analyst or sideline reporter has to fill in on play-by-play, and sometimes all commentary is gone. The latter is what appears to have happened for quite a while during Sportsnet‘s Canadian broadcast of the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames Monday (with Rick Ball on play-by-play and Kelly Hrudey on analysis). And that, interestingly enough, let to a number of comments praising the resulting inadvertent announcerless feed:
Flames broadcast on Sportsnet has an issue with the play-by-play and it’s honestly more amusing to watch it then have Rick Ball do it…
— Erik Pedersen (@EriktheLarp) February 21, 2022
— Jason Hoffman ???? (@EMSIJason) February 21, 2022
— Stephen Cassley (@FirehoseYYC) February 21, 2022
— Eric Wilhite (@eric_wilhite) February 21, 2022
Obviously, a few comments on Twitter aren’t an indication that “all viewers would prefer a feed with no announcers.” Most people do want traditional announcing feeds, and this shouldn’t be read into too much. And it’s notable that for this, as with most sporting broadcasts, most of the actual audience is probably not talking about it on Twitter.
And, beyond that, even some of these comments spell out that this is fine as a change-of-pace rather than a strategy. And one of the above comments even spells out support for these specific announcers. So this isn’t necessary even “These announcers are particularly bad”; both Ball and Hrudey have long NHL announcing backgrounds, and while both have critics, they also have plenty of supporters. Still, it is unusual to see an announcing feed go down, and to see the majority of the comments not be “What happened?! Get it back!” There isn’t necessarily a bigger takeaway from that, but that was an interesting reaction.