As the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs start, the league is introducing new digital content featuring Barry Melrose of NHL Network and ESPN, a highlights video hosted by MTV Canada VJ AJ Sovani, Facebook plus improving the Gamecenter app for mobiles and tablets.
The videos will feature highlights and analysis. The NHL will also utilize Foursquare for check-ins at Playoff venues. In addition, the league has a launched a Facebook Stanley Cup page as a way to increase its social networking presence.
Here’s the press release from the National Hockey League offices.
Highlights Include Daily Video Shorts Starring Barry Melrose & MTV Canada’s A.J. Sovani, Official Stanley Cup Facebook Page & Predictive Gaming App for Mobile Phones and Tablets
NEW YORK (April 10, 2012) – The National Hockey League has developed a number of new digital products and touch points for the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs to provide fans numerous ways to celebrate the most exciting time of the NHL® season.
“Hockey fans know that the Stanley Cup Playoffs represent hockey at its best, but we needed to provide ways to help them stay engaged long after their favorite team has been eliminated,” said NHL chief operating officer John Collins. “We are building on our success in social and digital media to keep hockey fans engaged, while attracting casual fans and creating new opportunities for our partners to activate around the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”
Daily Digital Video Shorts
New this year to the post-season, the League will produce twice-daily, seven-day-a-week digital video shorts aimed to inform, engage and entertain all fans – from those who are new to the sport to the most avid hockey fan. The two- to three-minute videos, which begin appearing tomorrow and continue throughout the entire run of the Stanley Cup® Playoffs, will come in two editions: the “Stanley Cup Countdown,” which will be released after the night’s games are completed, and an afternoon edition that will be known as “Melrose’s Place.”
“Stanley Cup Countdown” is a fast-paced, high-energy video hosted by MTV Canada VJ Aliya-Jasmine “A.J.” Sovani, showcasing highlights and the top must-see moments from the night. These moments will not just be the obvious best plays of the night on the ice, but also could include moment such as player pranks, wacky goal celebrations, a fan resembling their favorite player or celebrity sightings.
“Melrose’s Place” features Barry Melrose of the NHL Network and ESPN, providing commentary on the water-cooler moments of the Playoffs, along with his take on the night’s upcoming match-ups.
Every video will end with Stanley Cup Playoffs broadcast tune-in information so fans are sure to know where to go to see all the action.
“Stanley Cup Countdown” and “Melrose’s Place” will be distributed through all NHL platforms, including NHL.com™, NHL Network™, NHL Mobile™, NHL Social™ (Twitter / Facebook) and other key third-party League digital syndication partners.
The NHL has increased its number of social media followers by 211% the past three seasons and is poised to deliver a number of new Stanley Cup-themed applications and shareable experiences, many of which will be the first of their kind.
The NHL also is pleased to announce that the most recognizable trophy in sports – the Stanley Cup — now has its own Facebook page (Facebook.com/StanleyCup.) Fans are encouraged to “friend” the Cup and explore its page, which will offer the trophy’s history and folklore, fun facts and updates on the Cup’s whereabouts from the road.
The following is a list of additional new features from NHL Social being introduced for the #StanleyCup (official hashtag):
- Virtual Beard App – Through Facebook and NHL.com, fans of all ages and genders will finally be able to participate in the grand tradition of growing a playoff beard. By uploading a photo to the virtual beard app and declaring fandom for a particular NHL team, a beard will begin to appear on the fan’s face in the picture. The beard will continue to grow as their favorite team moves on to the next round. If their team is eliminated from the Playoffs, they are then able to shave their virtual beard. If a fan would like to declare their allegiance for another team who has continued on to the next round while their first choice team hasn’t, they may do so and continue to grow their playoff beard.
- Fan Photo Mosaics – In the coming weeks, fans will be asked to share photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram showcasing their passion for a team while tagging the photos with the team name in a hashtag along with the official secondary hashtag for the Stanley Cup Playoffs — #BecauseitstheCup. The uploaded photo will then be aggregated into a Stanley Cup-shaped mosaic that brings together fans from all over the world and is shareable through Facebook pages and personal websites.
- Locker Room Postcards – In the vein of good-natured ribbing between fans of rival teams, Facebook users will be able to send sarcastic sympathy postcards to friends after their team is eliminated from the Playoffs.
- FourSquare – In October 2010, the NHL became the first sports league to have a full-time, dedicated presence on Foursquare. Today, the NHL and FourSquare are utilizing that partnership to engage and promote the Stanley Cup Playoffs. By “checking in” to a Playoff game, hockey fans can find other fans and locations to watch a game, while unlocking a Stanley Cup Badge – the League’s first official “badge” available through the platform. Additionally, fans who check in at the Stanley Cup fountain in Times Square between April 11 – 13 will receive a special offer – buy one hat, get the second hat half off – at the NHL Store located on the corner of 6th Avenue and 47th Street in New York City.
- Playoffs Facts – Molson Canadian will extend its bottle back label’s Playoffs Facts program to Facebook and Twitter, allowing fans to “like” and share interesting stats and timely facts related to this year’s Stanley Cup run.
- Twitter Aggregator App – This is an app for Facebook that tracks the mentions of every Stanley Cup game online and through social platforms. As each team battles it out on the ice, they will also compete online through this app for the title of “Noise Leader” of the game. The team that has the most mentions online will be named the “noisiest” making them the winner. Now when fans root for their team through social networks, they also are rooting them on to win through this online match-up.
NHL GameCenter™, the League’s best-in-class global mobile product developed for smart phones and tablets through multiple carriers, has been updated for the post season to offer a deeper experience to feed fan’s insatiable appetite for Playoff content and serve as a companion when watching live NHL games. Under the newly added “Playoffs” tab on NHL GameCenter, the first thing fans will see are the daily video shorts – “Stanley Cup Countdown” and “Melrose’s Place” – as well as round-by-round matchups with tune in information. Additionally the app will provide free audio for Playoff games for the first time ever.
Also a first, the NHL will offer customers of the NHL GameCenter Premium™ App the ability to stream live Stanley Cup Playoff games that air on NBC (not including NBC Sports Network game broadcasts.) This app was enhanced during the regular season and now features the following:
- Star Cam feed: NBC broadcast bonus camera angles catch all the action
- NBC Sports’ “Inside the Glass”™ analysis from the national network broadcasts: additional insight and information about the action from the coach’s or the bench perspective
- Key In-Game Replays not available during the live on-air broadcast on NBC
- NHL Network’s signature show, NHL On the Fly™
- Weekly “Frozen Moment” montage, capturing the iconic moments and history in the making available on demand
- Weekly “NHL Plays of the Week” video on demand
According to Nielsen, 88% of tablet owners in the U.S. have used their handheld device in the past month while watching TV. To complement this growing trend, the NHL will be rolling out the predictive gaming app NHL® PrePlay during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The first-of-its-kind to be introduced by a major professional sports league, the app allows fans to play along while watching live Playoff game broadcasts by earning points for correctly predicting the outcomes of on-the-ice actions before they actually happen. Fans can guess who will win a face-off, kill a penalty or ultimately come out victorious for bragging rights against friends around the world playing along on their mobile phones and tablets. NHL® PrePlay is the latest in second-screen experiences that not only sustain viewership, but also promote it by making the TV-watching experience interactive.
That’s it for this post.