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Games Without Fans Create Problems For TV Networks

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the continuation of uncertainty, one thing that seems certain is fans will not be able to attend games when the league resumes. The plan would be to broadcast the games on TV networks like NBCSN, TSN, or Sportsnet and feed them across the US and Canada. League and broadcast officials are still trying to find the best, safest way to pull it off.

We’ve had numerous meetings with the league… The first thing that we all talk about is safety. The existing broadcast enviornment is not a place where you can properly practise social distancing.-Rob Corte, VP of Sportsnet and NHL Production to Sportsnet

The safety concerns are not only for the fans and players but the people running the broadcast as well. Sure it’s important to produce the best broadcast, but outlets cannot put their own employees at risk while doing so.

Live trucks tend to have a large video switcher, audio, replay and video editors, chyron operators, producers, etc. It’s close quarters. It’s literally on the back of a truck. There’s the possibility that you can offload some of those editors and replay operators outside of the truck. The switcher needs to be there. As does audio and producer. Perhaps editing and replay could be done back at the studios, but then you are only getting replays of whatever was fed to them, not of alternate angles. So it’s not ideal. -Shawn Tempesta, Las Vegas Media Professional

Local broadcast media pro and good friend of the site, Shawn Tempesta, told us broadcasting games will be a challenge, but it is possible to work around certain problems. Maybe networks will scale back, limiting the number of employees working in the same areas.

Graphically it will be tough. Usually each game has two crews, two production trucks, etc. You could see graphics handled at their studios versus at the arena. Or maybe what Olympics do with generic graphics. Chances are they do a bare bones, clean broadcast and move the graphics to the home studio. -Tempesta

NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported his employer, Sportsnet, is considering three options for their broadcasts.

The first is a telecast sent to every market with generic graphics provided at the rink and announcers on-site. These might not be my regular Sportsnet teammates. Instead, they might be NBC announcers or, if the games are in Carolina, John Forslund and Tripp Tracy.

The second option is what’s called “taking a split.” Each market still takes the world feed, but — if allowed on-site — can supplement it with their own truck. That would allow for on-site talent, graphics and possibly an extra camera or two they could control.

And the third option is a “clean” feed sent to everyone — national and local. No graphics, no commentators. Each team’s crew could add their own “look” at their production facilities, with the action called off a monitor. My guess is that’s the most likely scenario.- Elliotte Friedman, Sportsnet

Just like getting the season to resume, there are plenty of ideas on how best to broadcast the games. From robotic cameras to moving camera operators closer to the action since they have more room without fans in the building.

One suggestion that is absolutely awful is the idea of using virtual crowds. There is no need to Photoshop eighteen thousand digital people into an empty arena to give us the illusion that the stadium isn’t empty. It would be a critical mistake that would annoy the viewers and be the laughingstock of sports replays for decades.

One suggestion that Friedman came up with was perfect for a Vegas audience. There’s a bit of chance in all of us out here, and split screens for gambling options would be a massive hit.

I’m also a big believer that it’s time for “second screen” gambling games for fan engagement. Each broadcast would have a contest that fans could enter online or through their smartphones. Okay, Canucks fans, who is scoring your next goal? Okay, Oilers fans, are you killing this Flames’ power play? Points for correct answers, prizes for highest personal totals.- Friedman

No matter how the NHL plans on presenting game broadcasts, the first concern is the safety of everyone involved. If network officials find a way to keep it the way it always has been, or if they’re forced to produce a much simpler game broadcast it still won’t matter. Fans just want to watch the game. Graphics and alternative angles are great, but it’s not that important.

Players, nets and a puck, that’s all we really need.


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  1. Walt T

    As I’ve mentioned a few times, this season should be canceled. Teams need to absorb the financial losses, players need to focus on their families and the off season workouts, and then training camp. With each passing day, whatever product they attempt to put on the ice will be tainted and most fans know the reasons why. The winner of the tainted cup will mean as much to me as Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire’s home run totals and awards. My home run heroes remain Aaron, Ruth and Maris. So the Blues can say they are the champs for a while longer. Let’s not ruin the greatest sport of them all with some sort of alternate universe playoffs. By October, things hopefully will be up and running full blast or else put a fork in all of us.

    • Michael B

      I disagree completely that the Cup will be tainted. Just like in the lockout years, they had Stanley Cups with shortened seasons.

  2. Daryl

    It’s all about money, nothing more nothing less. There is absolutely no reason why the season cannot continue and I disagree with anyone who says the Cup won’t count as much. The season was practically over with very few spots in the playoffs changing.

  3. Tim

    Like Chick Hearn used to say ( Put a Fork in them there Done ) This dream of continuing the season is for people who still believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny. This virus is still spreading and to think a player won’t test positive your dreaming. No one really knows what were dealing with so all this hype is just that hype. I truly love baseball and hockey the other sports I could care less about but in the real world were screwed until they get a vaccine.

    • Daryl

      So what you are saying is we might be out of luck when it comes to sports for a couple years???

      This virus is only a problem for those who are already sick, especially with some sort of respiratory disease. That is no reason to cancel the season. And players can be tested for it as well. Look at the numbers, what’s the morality rate? Those are pretty good odds

    • Jim

      Words of wisdom. Not going to see sports of any kind for 18 months
      That includes the golden child NFL.
      Only a fool would think you going to go from mid July to February Super Bowl with nobody catching virus. Only takes one player, one trainer,one assistant on one team. Means whole team is quarantined and your schedule is screwed. League comes to a halt. Commissioners in all leagues know this.

  4. "DOC"

    Ok, couple of threads starting here. First, on what the article was written about: Vast majority of us fans just want to see hockey being played and a Cup champion crowned. There are lots of smart people who will figure out how to produce and present the games, on TV, in a professional manner. Once the games proceed, especially the playoffs, we won’t notice any tainted effort or any of that. It won’t take long for the intensities to be there 100%. For the tiny minority that say the season should be dumped. Well, simply don’t watch the games.

    Second is regarding the Virus: This is the only thing that will stop the season from being competed. And, it could still do that for sure. The league knows they will be front and center on this issue. IMO they will do whatever is necessary to keep all involved as safe as possible. If that can’t happen then and only then would I agree to cancel the rest of this season. But my gut tells me we will see hockey and a 2019/2020 Cup Champion!!!!!!!

  5. Well Daryl my friend now you have someone else to quote stats etc to and banter back and forth. Guess you like the challenge which is great. The entire situation is pretty sad. I am not certain they will have the play-offs but l am sure of one thing l would never look at the Cup as tainted regardless who wins. Obviously it would be great to be vegas but who knows. It is probably the most difficult award to win. It took the capitals 34 years.

  6. Hi Daryl my friend now you have someone else to quote stats etc to and banter back and forth. Guess you like the challenge which is great. The entire situation is pretty sad. I am not certain they will have the play-offs but l am sure of one thing l would never look at the Cup as tainted regardless who wins. Obviously it would be great to be vegas but who knows. It is probably the most difficult award to win. It took the capitals 34 years.

  7. "DOC"

    Well ….. I commented (positively) on this about 18 hours ago. But as usual Jason has refused to approve my comment? I don’t know what his problem is with me, but from now on, IF I know that HE is author of an article, I will not be clicking on to read or comment. Ridiculous & immature on his part.

    • Has there ever been someone more sensitive than you?

      • "DOC"

        Is that to me Ken? Sensitive? I just want fairness. When I go back hours later and see others comments listed that were after mine, then I get pissed. Just so you know, there are others who look forward to my thoughts and they E-MAIL me and ask why I didn’t comment on this or that. I tell them I DID, it just hasn’t been “blessed” yet! If ya’ll would just keep the site up-to-date more quickly, all would be good, I guess.

  8. Jim

    The virus is only a problem for those who already have it!!!???
    Dumbest thing I have ever read!

    • Daryl

      It might be for someone who actually doesn’t understand the virus. As of right now today, there has not been a single case where someone has died from this virus who was not already sick. People walk around and act like they can catch this virus just by walking next to someone who has it. The was this country has dealt with this virus is a joke. People are so worried yet they go to Walmart to grab 1 or 2 items. I have a better chance of catching this at Walmart than I do the gym.

      And as I stated before this virus has a mortality rate of about 4%. I’d take those odds and buy a ticket to every game

    • Daryl

      And learn to read… I didn’t say it was a problem for those who already have it… I said it was an issue for those who are already SICK!!

  9. NEWS

    all the cowering naysayers can go back under their beds.

    GUESS WHAT little flat earthers? MLB just announced that they will be starting their season in July

    so, obviously the NHL will be right behind them soon with a similar announcement

    expect to see Hockey camps open in June

    Hockey fans can rejoice…..phony fan pretenders/lockdown lovers can go back into hiding

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