NBC and NHL provide TV Everywhere for Stanley Cup Playoffs


The 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs are here and the NHL, along with its playoff broadcast partners are using a variety of mobile and digital strategies and programs to engage fans including streaming broadcasts of the games.

The highlights are probably having all of the games presented nationally across the platforms of the NBC Sports Group for the third year in a row and for the second consecutive year NBC Sports Live Extra will stream every game live. To fans that closely follow the games this might not be a surprise but for the casual fan this could be news.

The live streaming will reach a variety of devices that have downloaded the NBC Sports Live Extra app and can stream the events as they are shown on NBC, NBC Sports Network and CNBC. It will work with desktop and laptop PCs to tablets and smartphones as long as they are authenticated customers.

This is part of the growing push for “TV Everywhere” partnerships between cable providers, networks and sports leagues that all are starting to promote more aggressively. CBS and Turner Sports along with the NCAA saw strong online viewership growth for the recently concluded March Madness even when broadcast viewership slightly declined; and NBC’s push with cable partners during the Winter Olympics also produced large digital audiences. (Editor’s note: So maybe finally broadcasters are really realizing that online audiences are additive, not subtractive ones. Huzzah.)

In addition there will be a stronger social media push for this year’s playoffs including a very interesting deal with Magisto called Making Stanley Cup Movie Magic with Magisto. Magisto is a video creation and sharing app for both Android and Apple platforms and it will enable fans to create movies about experiences and events at the game such as the Blackhawks’ I Was There promotion.

The NHL and CBS are taking an interesting turn at Twitter as well this season. The @NHLonNBCSports twitter account will be handled by a variety of celebrity guests including CBS personalities, ex-players and celebrity hockey fans over the course of the playoffs.

That is just part of its much larger social campaign that also includes the basic news for the playoffs at #StanleyCup, an effort to highlight fans through photos that at #CelebrateStanley Photo Campaign for the Fans and the news and information site of NHL on NBC All-Access Social Media that is located at NBCSports.com/NHLonNBC.

It appears that select sports leagues and networks are increasingly coming to the realization that as an increasing number of fans are also cutting the cord to broadcast and cable TV the best was to reach them is via mobile digital media and programs like these from the NHL and NBC seem like the right approach to encourage that engagement.

(Editor’s second note: Not EVERY game is being shown live, there are still local blackouts… look what we got when we tried to tune in San Jose – LA:)

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NHL FanCam to Engage Fans at home and at Stanley Cup Games

I think everybody knows at least one sports fan that is always claiming that they were at any number of prestigious events, but oddly never seems to have the ticket stub or any other evidence. Well if you are attending the Stanley Cup Finals in the upcoming days you will have a unique way to prove you were there.

A second round of the NHL FanCam presented by Ticketmaster will make its appearance for both games 1 and 3 that will be played on May 30 and June 4 respectively. It is as simple as it is high tech, but you have to be in your seat at the right time. The first time the NFL broke out the FanCam was earlier this year for the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa.

The FanCam takes a high-definition, 360 degree photo of the inside of the arena. All a fan has to do is find their image in the photo at the FanCam website, and any friends that might be along for the games as well. You then ‘tag’ yourself and you can share it with friends via email, Twitter and Facebook. Proof for everyone to see and believe!

The NHL is also using the FanCam to engage fans in another way. It is holding a contest called Hunt for the Cup in which fans can search for a picture of the Stanley Cup that will be in the FanCam and posted at the website. The advantage to this is that for the unfortunate fans that cannot attend the Stanley Cup Finals they may still participate in this event.

All of the fans that find the cup are entered into a drawing for a chance to win two tickets to the 2013 Bridgestone NHL WinterClassic, two roundtrip airfare tickets, two New Year’s Eve Party passes,
as well as transportation, accommodations and fan apparel for the event. This sweepstakes is open to US and Canadian citizens 21 years or older and the sweepstakes closes July 31.

This is an interesting use of this type of technology and much better than the relatively static approach of just showing fans in the stands so that they can cheer for themselves. By using a bit of high technology and a simple approach it can really engage fans into visiting the web site. By creating a contest that fans that cannot attend the games the NHL helps expand the experience for them as well.

Boston Bruins Combine all Social Media in Bruins DEN

While lamenting the fact that it is impossible for my March Madness team, now in second, to gain any additional points I failed to notice that the Boston Bruins have launched one of the most aggressive aggregation sites for social and traditional media concerning the team.

The Bruins, winner of the last Stanley Cup, have launched the Bruins Digital Entertainment Network (DEN), a site that combines television, ticket info, with a wide range of social media contacts and sources.

The site promises that it will provide not only what fans have come to expect in terms of data on players and games but it also said that it will be creating original content for fans to view. You can follow the team in a variety of manners including via BostonBruinsTV.com, at its popular web site BostonBruins.com or on Facebook. The list goes on with support at Twitter, Google +, Tumblr, as well as Facebook and Foursquare check-ins.

The Bruins DEN is a tool that will enable the teams’ corporate sponsors to reach out towards fans with a focused effort, and the site said that it expects to have 2.5 million unique visitors each month, so it should be quite an opportunity for them. Not only that but any technology that it uses is often highlighted with the name of the developer or partner,

An example of that is when the site says that its partners will benefit from its enhanced social analytics capabilities, courtesy of startup Umbel. It has an app for fans called the Official Boston Bruins Mobile App (Bruinsmobile.com) powered by AT&T. The app already features a sitcom series called ‘The Bear and the Gang’ that centers on the teams mascot. The bear also has his own Pinterest page.

The site is easy to navigate and all of the social media connections are clearly marked and easy to find. There is the almost obligatory Twitter feed, pictures from other fans posted using Instagram, and a hsot of additional connections ranging from one that gives you the all-time player roster to one that has a list of giveaways and events.

The organization is moving to provide fans access to its team in a great number of ways, and allowing them to show their pride and interest in the team. Regardless if you download and use the mobile app, post images on Instagram, comments of Facebook or check-in the Bruins are putting the fan experience first. At the same time the business side is carefully intertwined with the effort so that the team can monetize itself and its partners’ efforts in this endeavor.

About a decade ago just a few baseball teams had an Internet presence but MLB quickly learned what a tool the Internet was and pushed all of its teams online, and has since been very aggressive with all forms of social media. I hope that the NHL takes a page from that book and uses this as a template for the other teams in the league because I believe that fans will greatly embrace this opportunity.