Posted by BadHabitude
Yes. A business decision. You're over-simplifying how it works. Ratings are just part of the equation: it's not like a show with high ratings earns a station a check because of the Ratings Fairy. You have to get the sponsors in advance based on who is willing to pay to advertise, and you have to make enough revenue to make a broadcast worth it.
Unlike a home game, to show the game last night, the Bruins would have had to pay for the rights or send their own TV crew up there and feed it back via satellite live to Boston. They would have then had to generate revenue to pay for however they decided to show the broadcast, as well as hire announcers to re-dub it in English (as far as I know, there was no English telecast). Now, I'm sure that some revenue could be generated, but the people at NESN know for sure (because their entire business is based on cost/analysis). If they could make money on this game (and weren't contractually bound elsewhere) they'd show it.
It cost nothing to show the Sox game last night (as they were already planning to show it anyway, just at a different time) or to run pre-taped programming.
It works the same way on a local level. I work for a sports radio station in Maine. The HS games we air live are all about revenue that can be generated...even if there is a "better" game in the area, it's about how much money can be made. That's it and that's all.
Big, small, in between....it doesn't matter. All programming is revenue.
Eventually, the a la carte system you're talking about will be available to everyone, once internet streaming catches up in quality to HDTV.