The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa recently spoke to several people involved with NHL broadcasts about what direction they saw the sport’s televised future heading. Both executives and play-by-play men stressed the importance of interactivity and innovation.
For NESN’s Jack Edwards, the biggest motivation for change will be the prevalence of a second screen for younger fans.
The last briefing I got from NESN on this subject — where our audience is technologically — was about five years ago. One hundred percent of the people we surveyed under 30, every single person under 30, had a second screen going during a Red Sox or Bruins game,” Edwards said. “It’s part of life. Now, that might have been text messaging a boyfriend or girlfriend, or going to hockey-reference.com. But it was a second screen. And if there’s a second screen diverting that person’s attention, that’s revenue either lost by the primary screen or to be won the primary rightsholder.
He pointed out to Shinzawa that every break in the action leads to audience erosion, so he hopes to see more done to keep viewers engaged when there is no action on the ice. Shinzawa says several people he talked to suggested that hockey may take a page from soccer’s playbook to combat that.
What would a hockey broadcast with no commercials look like? Shizawa suggests that more bugs and crawls featuring product logos or sponsor messages could appear over the action on the ice. That would eliminate the need for three commercial timeouts per period.
Sam Flood, who is the executive producer of NBC Sports’ coverage of the NHL, wants to use those second screens to give viewers more access. That might even mean an R-rated version of the broadcast is on the horizon for the Peacock Network.
It would be two different screens,” Flood said. “One would be the traditional telecast: play-by-play, inside the glass, analyst. The other would be, ‘Here we go, on the ice with these guys.’ Players and coaches fully miked. F’s and S’s get used a lot. It’s the unfiltered stuff that is so incredible. You’d be hearing all the cute exchanges people have, the exchanges between opponents. I think it would be an incredible way to consume the game.
Shinzawa heard a lot of interesting ideas and shares all of them. You can read the full article here.