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NHL Broadcasters Talk About The Industry’s Future

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The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa recently spoke to several people involved with NHL broadcasts about what direction they saw the sport’s televised future heading. Both executives and play-by-play men stressed the importance of interactivity and innovation.

For NESN’s Jack Edwards, the biggest motivation for change will be the prevalence of a second screen for younger fans.

The last briefing I got from NESN on this subject — where our audience is technologically — was about five years ago. One hundred percent of the people we surveyed under 30, every single person under 30, had a second screen going during a Red Sox or Bruins game,” Edwards said. “It’s part of life. Now, that might have been text messaging a boyfriend or girlfriend, or going to hockey-reference.com. But it was a second screen. And if there’s a second screen diverting that person’s attention, that’s revenue either lost by the primary screen or to be won the primary rightsholder.

He pointed out to Shinzawa that every break in the action leads to audience erosion, so he hopes to see more done to keep viewers engaged when there is no action on the ice. Shinzawa says several people he talked to suggested that hockey may take a page from soccer’s playbook to combat that.

What would a hockey broadcast with no commercials look like? Shizawa suggests that more bugs and crawls featuring product logos or sponsor messages could appear over the action on the ice. That would eliminate the need for three commercial timeouts per period.

Sam Flood, who is the executive producer of NBC Sports’ coverage of the NHL, wants to use those second screens to give viewers more access. That might even mean an R-rated version of the broadcast is on the horizon for the Peacock Network.

It would be two different screens,” Flood said. “One would be the traditional telecast: play-by-play, inside the glass, analyst. The other would be, ‘Here we go, on the ice with these guys.’ Players and coaches fully miked. F’s and S’s get used a lot. It’s the unfiltered stuff that is so incredible. You’d be hearing all the cute exchanges people have, the exchanges between opponents. I think it would be an incredible way to consume the game.

Shinzawa heard a lot of interesting ideas and shares all of them. You can read the full article here.

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Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+

“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”

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Sinclair Broadcast Group and Diamond Sports Group have tapped Michael Schneider as the chief operating officer and general manager of Bally Sports+ when it launches this year.

Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.

Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.

“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”

Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.

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Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+

“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”

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As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.

Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.

Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.

“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”

The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.

“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”

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Laura Rutledge Celebrates Chemistry Of NFL Live

“It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

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Laura Rutledge is very happy with where NFL Live is as the current lineup gets set to enter its third season together. She told The Big Lead that there is genuine chemistry between herself, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes, and Dan Orlovsky and that is why she doesn’t feel the need to emulate any of sports television’s many debate shows.

“You don’t want to see people yelling at each other all the time and I’m really proud of the chemistry that we have struck and just letting that breathe on air and having so much fun. It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

The 2022 NFL season will have a very different feel for ESPN. The addition of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for Monday Night Football adds new expectations to the network.

Rutledge said that the attention on the network means that she and her colleagues have to raise their respective games, but that shouldn’t be hard. There is always material to work with in this league.

“We’ve seen this offseason, we saw the previous offseason, how the NFL news cycle never stops. It’s funny because the news cycle becomes such a big piece of the story, but we’re like, we can’t wait for the games,” she said.

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