The NHL and its technology partners present the next generation of fan experience
NEWARK, New Jersey — The NHL prides itself on how it stays on the cutting edge of using technology in a variety of ways to create a better gaming experience not just for players and coaches, but even casual fans.
The NHL and its partners, including Verizon, Immersiv, Source Digital, Vizrt, Apple and SAP, WSC Sports, Amazon Web Services, Beyond Sports, Sportradar and SportsMEDIA Technology, demonstrated advancements in Verizon 5G technology at the Technology Showcase of the 2022 NHL at Prudential Center on Thursday.
“NHL fans are so greedy, it’s great,” said NHL Senior Vice President of Business Development and Innovation David Lehanski. “I think it’s because hockey is fast, there’s a lot of action, no downtime, but we think there should be more (for the fans) because there’s no should be nothing that our fans don’t have.
“We have a real plan to develop and our interest is to pursue it from a League-wide perspective at some point and the overall theme is really how we leverage 5G and the cloud. to create new experiences for fans.”
The NHL used four suites at the Prudential Center to demonstrate the future arena experiences and enhanced live game streaming capabilities that played out in real time during the New Jersey Devils-Buffalo Sabers game that night.
Among the applications used to demonstrate experience in the arena:
* Verizon showed off an app that would allow fans to view multiple camera feeds and angles of a game on their Apple device in real time during gameplay.
“You can have the best seat in the arena, sit in the front row and not be able to see what’s happening behind the net at the other end, but now you’ll be able to do that via a mobile device,” said Lehanski.
* The NHL and WSC Sports collaborated to create instant access to arena replays that would provide fans with a seamless stream of replays and highlights of the action that just unfolded on the ice.
*Teams used the SAP-NHL Coaching Insights app for iPad, which displayed real-time information like ice time, time of possession, shot location and face-off percentage with user-friendly displays and customizable filters. This technology is in its fifth year.
“We have three or four iPads on the bench, and you see the new generation of players looking for these things more,” Sabers coach Don Granato said. “I know it’s been a real push for the NHL, and we’ve had a lot of discussion, on a regular basis, about new technology in the form of video and analysis. As a coach, I love that.”
Among the applications expected to improve the broadcasting and streaming of live games:
* Vizrt demonstrated a cloud-based game production model that can create multiple broadcasts from the same set of real-time cloud video streams.
“We’re approaching a point where you no longer need to have production trucks parked outside with cables running through the building,” Lehanski said. “You’re going to be able to produce live games in the cloud and produce as many versions of the game as you want.”
* Beyond Sports and Sportradar presented a concept that will give fans the opportunity to immerse themselves in a live virtual gaming experience. Additionally, Beyond Sports featured two versions of the game, one that uses sports betting with real-time odds and stats, and a youth-themed show that features fun player avatars and explosion graphics. .
“We’re showing what’s really happening on the ice, but adding fun characters and effects,” said Beyond Sports co-founder/CTO Nicolaas Westerhof. “So every time there’s a slap shot, there’s a little explosion. Every time there’s a goal, fireworks go off in the net. It’s fun little effects that make it make it more enjoyable for children.”
*Source Digital showed examples of how fans will be able to customize their NHL streaming experience to determine what they want or don’t want to see and hear, including stats, live social media, multiple audio streams and Moreover.
The NHL has fully installed its puck and player tracking technology and dubbed it the NHL Edge this season. Each of the 32 arenas has 14 to 16 infrared cameras that track puck and jersey sensors throughout each game, generating data for teams, media and fans.
The NHL and Amazon Web Services have created an in-game graph that instantly shows a player’s odds of winning a face-off and displays them on-screen for fans watching the game broadcast.
“The face-off app was born out of our media partners,” Lehanski said. “Hockey stoppages are short, but this is a time for broadcasters to tell a story. We’ve created a predictor that shows who is most likely to win the toss, and then broadcasters can tell the story to fans. This guy is 5-for-6, this guy likes the bottom left face-off spot, or we have a right-hander against right-hander.”
The NHL won the Alpha Award for Best Sports Innovation at the 2022 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference in March for its puck and player tracking technology.
“All of that will come to fruition over time,” Lehanski said. “I use the goalkeeper example all the time. There are really two stats to analyze goalkeepers…goals-against average and save percentage and one of them (GAA ) isn’t really a goalie stat; it’s a team stat. Now we can tell where each shot was fired, who fired it, how fast it was moving, if it was deflected, which area it was from, time of the match, score of the match and whether or not the goalkeeper plays back-to-back nights.
“We’re trying to build these things with the mindset that you’re going to want to consume the NHL differently than I want to consume it. Our partners are looking at this data to help us understand. It takes time, but it doesn’t. no doubt we’re only scratching the surface and it’s only going to get bigger.”