Monday, April 7, 2008

New NHL Network Online Video Portal Debuts

The National Hockey League continues its aggressive broadband push with a new video player for, more ad options and a batch of channels timed to launch when the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs begin Wednesday. This week’s launch includes access to three years of archived clips by date and player, as well as several hours a day of programming. It’s just the beginning—a taste of what’s coming this summer when all 30 teams will start using the player to distribute their own programming, and when relaunches completely in September. The new channels, organized around themes, give the league a way to pull its digital content into linear viewing instead of piecemeal. At the same time, users have flexibility to pick clips and to go deep. For instance, click “more” under the results of a game in the Game Highlights channel and you can see a list of goals and click on the corresponding video as I did with Sunday’s 500th goal by Keith Tkachuk, then click on his name and see video clips for his goals stretching back to November 2005 after the hockey lock-out ended. Mika said they aren’t sure yet how deep the archive will go. Two more channels are slated for launch this fall: a channel populated by user-gen content and one called MyNHL. The user-gen video will be moderated with league sensibilities in mind; “it’s not a blog,” Mika said. Don’t expect content that breaks team rules, like chunks of videotape from inside arenas, but a brief clip taken with a personal device—say of the celebration after a milestone goal—might make it in. The real emphasis is on “fandom,” says Mika, given fans a voice online. MyNHL uses info gleaned during registration to deliver users their own channel of video that meets their interests. It also takes the embedding the league already offers a step further, allowing users to snag video as they watch and drop it into their own feed that can be embedded on their own site. They originally planned to launch that feature now but decided to wait for more personalization.

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