In favor of a new point of view


My man Matthias, who will hereafter be known as “our European correspondent”, just triggered something and I want to throw it out there while it’s fresh in my head. His question specifically was about hockey games on the web, but the subject was hockey broadcasts in general:

If you haven’t figured it out already, I love hockey. I love to play it, I love writing about it, and I love watching games from a press box or in the stands. Again, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson, I’m using the word love here.

And yet when it comes to watching a hockey game on TV, I have to admit even I have a tough time. Of course, this is hardly unique. If there’s a reason that football in this country flourishes while hockey flounders, it’s because of a simple equation:

Hockey: Great to see in person, tough to watch on TV.

Football: OK to see in person, great to watch on TV.

Welcome to American commerce.

Naturally a lot of this has to do with the pace of the game along with the size of the puck. Whenever I try to lure my wife into watching a game with me, she invariably gives up because she can’t see the stupid puck (she has bad eyes, which may explain why she married me).

Maybe we’ll never get around that. But I often felt at least one way to improve hockey broadcasts on TV — beyond HD, which I think will also help the game tremendously — is to offer more camera angles of the game north to south as opposed to the standard east-west.

Stay with me for a second, because I have a point.

One of the beauties of hockey is seeing a play develop and watching it unfold. When you see the game in the standard angle, that’s difficult to appreciate. But from behind, particularly with the benefit of being elevated, you’re better able to see how one event at one end of the rink has a direct impact on an event at the other.

Now, I’m not in TV, and fortunately for you, I’m not ON TV, either. But I have to think there are better ways to capture the pace and excitement of the game, and this would be one of them.

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  1. I always agreed with this that the game has to be broadcasted by different camera angles.
    You cant see anythign develop and alot of times cant even see the puck. A North-South camera that can complement the East-West camera would be a great idea. An overhead camera would also be a great idea. I just dont know why but it does nto work on tv at all.

  2. Sam,

    Did you like the dasher cam that ESPN tried out at the NCAA Frozen Four in 2005? Do you think ESPN owns the technology exclusively? If so, do you think OLN and NBC would be able to buy it from them for a price that would actually make it worthwhile?

  3. We have been futurizing on how TV will be broadcast in the future.

    We have prophezized that soon with sports TV you will have the CHOICE of what camera angle to watch and which audio feed to listent to. (Think porn DVD & audio track selection.)

    Want the overhead with the on-ice audio .. press 2-3
    Want Production Feed with commentary … Press 1-1
    Want Production Feed wtih on Ice-Audio … press 1-3
    etc ..

    There are so mnay channels already — why not have multiple signals / 1 channel?

    Want the North-South Feed … clikc HERE!

  4. One thing I used to love about the ESPN broadcasts, which you don’t get with either OLN or MSG (which is in every other way better), was the quality of the camerawork. They used a higher-quality video or something, so the rinks looked better lit, the picture was crisper. I also loved how they would go to close-ups of players almost every time there was a stoppage, so you felt you were getting up close, in a way you can’t if you’re close-up

    What really gets to you watching hockey live is the atmosphere of the game, the intensity of the players and the fans and the speed with which they play. This is not something you can replicate on TV. So you have to give the viewer something else, something they can’t get livve. Trying various different camera angles is a good idea. Each hockey broadcast should have higher production values all around, I would say. Produce the live broadcast in mucht the same way you do a good movie (though without special effects). Or emulate the way the NFL produces their highlight reels, but with the live feed. It might be more expensive, but it would work, I think.

    Personally, though, I’ve never had any trouble watching hockey games as they are, so what do I know..?

  5. Sam, you are funny guy…absoluetly….

    I am traveling around the world since 1982 for all the big events in soccer, tennis and NHL hockey (par exemple I have been to 17 of the thirty 30 NHL arenas due to some extensive roadtrips through the west in 2000 and in the east in 2003!!) and I am hundred percent behind you saying what is better than watching it at Madison Square Garden, Bell Center, Air Canada Centre as to watch it on TV or on a computer….

    But what can you do, when you live in a place like at the end of the world at 45 minutes away from Frankfurt/Rhein Main and another 8 hours away from the middle of the worlds time square…


  6. First off, Ethan you are a genius ( mostly b.c you think like me :) ) Televised options would be amazing. I find that listening to the announcers clouds my opinion.

    And Sam, more television angles is key. Give us the north south view that so many of us who grew up with it on EA Sports NHL hockey series.

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