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Volume 26 No. 225
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NHL Enters Unknown With Pandemic-Related Telecast Changes

Hockey broadcasting is "entering relatively unknown territory" with the NHL's qualifying round and Stanley Cup Playoffs taking place entirely in Edmonton and Toronto, according to Dan Robson of THE ATHLETIC. One of the "new factors Sportsnet has had to consider is collaboration." When the NHL announced its full plans to return to play in two hub cities, Sportsnet -- the league's national rights holder in Canada -- was "given the responsibility of producing the world feed for all of the games taking place in Edmonton." NBC "will produce the world feed out of Toronto." Under these "unusual circumstances, both networks are effectively working for the NHL, producing generic feeds -- just pictures and audio -- that the NHL's other broadcast partners will pick up and make their own, adding their unique commentary, score bug, graphics, music and other features." That means the NHL broadcasts "will have more of an Olympic feel than fans are used to." The storylines presented "will be skewed to a more balanced perspective on the ice, with both teams being featured." Three control rooms "will be set up -- with one producing all of the games involving Canadian teams in the Western Conference, one in charge of games involving Canadian teams in the Eastern Conference and the other taking care of the in-studio panel" (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/27).

NEW FEATURES: The CP's Gregory Strong wrote fans should "get ready for 'augmented audio.'" Swaths of empty seats "have been transformed into a set described as a cross between an outdoor game and 'American Ninja Warrior.'" The "JitaCam," with its "360-degree rotating arm, will provide different camera angles as it hangs from the scoreboards at Rogers Place and Scotiabank Arena." EA Sports is "helping with artificial crowd noise." Sportsnet's play-by-play teams "will call the action from inside the arenas and reporters will conduct player interviews via video linkup." The general plan for the television broadcast is to "see what works in the early going and tinker as necessary" (CP, 7/27).