NHL Launches New Hockey Viewing Experience

I will begin with a confession: I am a huge sports nerd. I don’t just watch sports; I obsess over them. Stats aren’t enough information for me. I want more. This is why I am excited about the NHL’s announcement about their partnership with Sportsvision. The casual fan should be excited too.

If you’ve ever watched an NFL game or a NASCAR race, you are already familiar with some of what Sportsvision does. The uber-helpful first down line in NFL games and the little bubbles with driver names and real-time speed in NASCAR are a couple of examples of what the company has already done to improve sports viewing for television. The NHL announced today that the company will now be lending their expertise to the NHL, in the form of laser-tracked pucks and microchips in players’ jerseys.

For those who watched hockey on Fox in the mid-nineties, let me assure you that we’re not talking about giant glowing pucks and flaming comet tails on slapshots. The NHL plans to use this new technology for stat tracking, measuring the speed of the players and the puck, and even determining the path of the puck into the net. Now, audiences will be able to see instantly that Zdeno Chara did actually shoot that puck at 115 MPH. For those who haven’t memorized the jersey numbers of all of the players (I quiz Kristin Marie weekly on the numbers of our beloved Bruins – and she fails every time), player identification will offer video game-like player tracking. Also, no more lengthy delays when reviewing a goal – the NHL will be able to use the new technology to tell whether or not the puck crossed the goal line, and even confirm the path of the puck into the net, using a trail (during replays only, thankfully).

The NHL is also launching a second-screen viewing option. This will provide advanced data including player and ref location, line changes, time on ice, player speed, and puck speed. The second screen will be interactive, allowing fans to dig through data to find information never before available to them, or anyone else.

The League will debut the technology at the All-Star Game, taking what many consider to be the worst part of an otherwise fun All-Star weekend (the actual game) and making it must-see TV.

The NHL All-Star Game airs at 5pm January 25th on NBC.