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.