December 29, 2021

Watching Hockey on TV

When it was announced ESPN was getting the NHL broadcasting rights back from NBC this year, I was cautiously optimistic. The NBC broadcast was a little stale after so many years on that network. Maybe they knew they would lose it and didn’t care to reinvest or try anything new.

ESPN had the game back in the late 90s/early 00s and had a great thing with NHL2Tonight, despite hockey seemingly being the 4th or 5th choice on the Worldwide Leader.

So far though, it’s been a disappointment, the only new innovation” seems to be more advertising hologrammed” onto the ice just inside the offensive zones near the blue line.

Maybe this is too much to ask, but some new camera angles would be nice. I’ve been watching hockey since the early 90s and the angles are still the same:

-a camera at the top of the lower bowl, center ice that swings east/west as the puck moves up and down the ice -sometimes a camera mounted on the glass behind the goal, usually shown on power plays when the puck doesn’t leave that offensive zone much -cameras in the corners, for the rare shot when the puck is there and bodies are banging the boards/glass nearby (usually you can’t see the puck in these shots, it is mainly to show the physicality)

I don’t know about you, but just going by the camera quality in the cell phone I carried in the mid-90s (non-existent) compared to the quality I carry now (iPhone 13 Pro), it is night and day.

Why hasn’t professional camera quality made the same leap? Yes, we got hi-def a decade or so ago, but all that did was improve on the not so great camera angles hockey broadcasters already used.

Here are the highlights from a game I watched last night: Montreal at Tampa Bay. As you can see, the majority of the video is the camera panning from left to right, like watching a tennis match from the referee’s chair. It’s ok, but I think it could be so much better. I think it misses some of the speed of the game.

Why can’t they mount a small camera to the ribbon board1 that exists in every new arena and let the camera move with the play, maybe slightly ahead of it as the play comes down the ice so it appears the offense is coming at you?

Or mount a couple cameras from the big screen over the ice, that shows the play from overhead, like they do for football games?

I realize this may upset traditional fans” that abhor change, but some innovation would be nice. Let’s go ESPN, try something new!

1usually above the lower bowl, with advertising and lighting effects that coordinate with the main big screen that hangs over the ice