With no hockey on tap for the foreseeable future, the NHL is counting on its in-house production team to create and deliver content that will keep fans engaged and entertained while the coronavirus pandemic keeps them at home.
This week, the league is unveiling two new initiatives — live player Q&A sessions on Twitter and Instagram, and an interactive program they’re calling “Greatest Moments of the 2019-20 Season … So Far.”
The bracket begins with 64 of the season’s best moments to date — 32 from each conference.
Starting Monday, two moments from the bracket will be pitted against each other each day starting at noon ET. Fans will have 24 hours to choose their favorite by voting on Twitter and Instagram Stories. Voting will go through six rounds, until the Greatest Moment is determined.
Up first — the viral moment where Ryan Miller traded a warm-up puck for a box of Thin Mints…
…battling the Colorado Avalanche’s team-record outburst of six goals in eight minutes in their 9-4 win over the Nashville Predators on Nov. 7.
The Greatest Moments run the gamut, from record-setting moments like Alex Ovechkin’s 700th career goal and high-skill moments like Andrei Svechnikov’s lacrosse-style goal to off-ice fun like the pig races at the Winter Classic and once-in-a-lifetime events like Pekka Rinne’s goalie goal and David Ayres’ big win as the Carolina Hurricanes’ emergency back-up goalie.
“I definitely think this is going to gain momentum, especially as people become more aware,” said the NHL’s chief content officer, Steve Mayer. “It’ll also be interesting to see what what really is resonating with our fans.
“I think it’s a little bit of an experiment to to clearly understand what our fans are looking for; what they want. But at the end of the day, we’re really just having some fun and wanting to do something that people can’t wait to vote for the next day and the next day after that.”
Under normal circumstances, at this time of year Mayer is booking bands and making plans for live entertainment spectacles to run during the Stanley Cup playoffs, which would have started in 10 days’ time. Now, instead of being on the road, he’s directing the league’s technical team from his home in suburban New Jersey, putting together content and experiences that can be consumed and enjoyed by fans through technology.
“I don’t want to ever take away from how serious (the coronavirus situation) is,” said Mayer. “I have no idea how long this is going to last. We’ll figure it all out but for right now, I think our obligation is to keep people engaged. Do anything we can to try to get peoples’ minds off of this.”
There’s nothing easy about setting up a production team to work remotely, but the league started planning for the possibility as soon as the coronavirus spread looked like it might threaten regular routines.
“We made it so that all our producers all our editors could work from home,” said Mayer. “We manned them with computers and then we manned them with a system that they can access all of our servers at the NHL, so they are working from home.
“It’s a lot slower, but it’s getting done. It’s amazing some of the stuff we’ve done.”
Over the last week, in addition to preparing the Greatest Moments for Monday’s launch, the NHL Original Productions team has also put together a collection of other video and social-media pieces, season snapshots for eight clubs so far, and four Zoom videoconferences with NHL players, with four more to come this week.
“I mean, the technical team is unbelievable,” said Mayer. “It’s just unbelievable how you have to improvise. Our feeling is, the fans, they just want something new.”
Like the Greatest Moments bracket, many of the ideas the league is rolling out will be interactive. David Pastrnak will kick off the live player Q&A sessions on Instagram on Monday at 3 p.m. ET and Mayer’s team is in the process of putting together a game show that will be hosted by New Jersey Devils’ defenseman P.K. Subban, set to debut in the coming weeks.
“We don’t want to waste time getting this stuff out there, because, we don’t know how long it’s going to last,” Mayer said about his team’s frantic pace. “And then, some of this could last forever. I mean, these can be so popular that we don’t stop when we come back in. Those are the things that we’re going to consider.
“These things would never take place during our season, so we also took that attitude. ‘What can we do now that we could probably never do during the season?’
“Will something get to be huge for us? Maybe, but at the same time it’s just a matter of trying to connect, trying to get to our fans. Some way to entertain them and then let them have some interaction, which I think actually is pretty cool as well.”
Source: Forbes Business