That's indeed the US dollar amount you'll need to pay to view all of the 2011 Calder Cup Playoff games in the American Hockey League. However, you can also secure the first and second round games of just one team for $39.99, and single game purchases for $9.99.
Throughout the season, fans of the American League game and those attempting to catch a few moments of their minor league team in action were subject to astronomical prices, poor video/audio quality, untimely choppy video, and almost absent customer service. The season long packages started at $399 for every AHL team, single teams for $199, and $6.99 for a single game. However, that season long package ends with the final horn of the regular season. And now the AHL wants you, the consumer, to fork over another armload.
Why is this so disturbing? For many reasons, but I'll highlight the most simple. When compared to the NHL GameCenter LIVE pricing at $149 which includes regular season, post season, and a slew of other razmataz (HD, mosaic, home vs away broadcast, etc.) the American League seems stuck in the dark ages.
I realize the viewing pool is much smaller in the minors than in the big leagues, but the lower leagues aren't doing themselves any favors by exaggerating prices when the game needs local support. Oklahoma City is a prime example. A new team, in a new market, with so-so ticket sales out of the gate; would have been nice to offer those fans a better rate to see their team home and away. Binghamton, Albany, Springfield, Rochester, Rockford and a slew of others could afford some healthy doses of hype as well. For what it's worth, ESPN3 does a bang up job in the lower 48 covering KHL games. Great quality, great product, exciting hockey - FOR FREE (assuming you subscribe to cable or satellite, and if not, I have big news...it's now in color!)
I'm not asking the AHL to offer a free product. Nor am assuming they can generate a quality of product as winning as the NHL. I can look past the quality, the options, and the bells and whistles, but I can't look past those things while wearing a large price tag.
Encourage local teams to up their in-game video coverage. Most, if not all, teams play in modern-type arenas that have broadcast capabilities greater than my run-of-the-mill Flip HD camera. Use those to your benefit. Consider budgeting to hire someone specifically for video broadcasts. And if you say, "there is no money there" strike up a deal with uStream, YouTube, or any other numerous streaming companies who know a thing or two about quality broadcasts at affordable prices.
Shame on you AHL for not offering a mass product at a reasonable rate. You've shot yourself in the foot by promoting a game that no one will be able to see, unless they dial it in the old fashioned way via radio, or fork over a few months worth of groceries to foot that unbelievable bill.
As an Oklahoma City Barons fan, I'll see you at the Cox Center for home playoff games, otherwise I'll bask in the glow of the velvety voice of Jim Byers. Plus, I'd like to eat for the next month.