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Do We Need All That Information On The TV Screen When Watching A Hockey Game?

from David Shoalts of the Globe And Mail,

The boss thought your agent was just the person to take a look and offer an opinion. It was no coincidence, I am sure, that your agent is an old coot and a traditionalist who still giggles when he thinks of the Fox network’s old glowing blue puck and red swoosh.

She was right, of course. I didn’t like any of these great breakthroughs in technology. They were all either underwhelming (the new puck-tracker thingy) or simply clutter (all those tags that told you how fast a shot was, how fast someone was skating or how long he was on the ice)....

First, I must congratulate Sportsnet for its restraint in the use of them. The network’s executives, no doubt acutely aware that Canadians still mock the Fox puck, 20 years after its brief lifespan expired, kept the intrusion of these things (don’t ask me their official name) to a minimum.

I did not watch every second of the broadcast – it was the freakin' all-star game – but I did not see Sportsnet use the puck-tracking once on Hockey Night In Canada. For that, I had to turn to NBC, which cluttered up the screen regularly with all of the special effects.

Then again, seeing the puck has been an obsession of U.S. TV network executives for decades. The Fox puck was their version of the Holy Grail. They are still on the case in 2019, somehow having missed the development of high-definition television, which made it possible for even U.S. viewers who do not live in a traditional NHL market to see the puck.

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Filed in: NHL Talk, NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nbc+sports+group

Comments

WingedRider's avatar

I thought I saw name bars for the 12 players on the ice.  Surprised the officials were not in the MESS.

As usual it is a stupid idea

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 01/27/19 at 10:56 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

I didn’t watch a single second of the game, but if all that crap was on screen during live play, that’s just terrible. If they want to use the fancy stuff for replays similar to the way baseball does, I’m all for that. 

Hopefully the tech leads to better stat keeping too. Even simpler things like zone time should’ve been standard long before now.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 01/27/19 at 11:29 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

It’s my understanding that NBC had a streaming channel with all of these “Hi-Tech” graphics during the game. I saw a few minutes of one of the games and saw a streak highlighting the Pucks direction, but for the most part, it was a normal brodcast.

I keep hearing from “experts” that the puck tracking technology will help non-hockey fans become fans. I think that is a load of crap. I can’t follow a baseball pitched at 95 mph, but I can still watch baseball.

People who don’t grow up with the game (playing/ attending games) are most likely never going to become fans. It’s been my experience, that getting someone to attend a hockey game in person and have them experience the skill, speed, and physical parts of the game can make them fans. Lots of glowing pucks and flashy blue streaks doesn’t really do anything, but alienate the fans you already had.

Posted by Down River Dan on 01/28/19 at 12:48 AM ET

Avatar

It was a damn disaster. 

I have a friend that has told me multiple times he doesn’t watch hockey because he cant see the puck.  I never understood that.  I also cant see the puck, so what.  I cant see the damn football during a game but I know the RB has it.  We don’t need a digital tail following the football around all game.  We don’t need the tail for hockey either.  If they do implement something like that I sure as hell hope that with the NHL.tv package there is an option to turn it off.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 01/28/19 at 09:43 AM ET

Avatar

I also cant see the puck, so what.

What?!?!?

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 01/28/19 at 10:33 AM ET

Primis's avatar

I have a friend that has told me multiple times he doesn’t watch hockey because he cant see the puck.  I never understood that.  I also cant see the puck, so what.  I cant see the damn football during a game but I know the RB has it. 

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 01/28/19 at 08:43 AM ET

This.  So much this.

You can’t see the baseball a lot of time during a game.  You don’t see the football some of the time.

The “I can’t follow the puck” argument is a hollow one.  If someone wants to say the pace of play can be difficult to keep up with, that’s fair, and it does take some learning.  But it’s not *that* bad, and funnily enough some of those same fans manage to watch during the Olympics just fine.  Funny thing, that.

Posted by Primis on 01/28/19 at 11:01 AM ET

Paul's avatar

My general feeling for this advanced technology.

It has to be shown on a second screen or else a lot of hockey purists will not be happy with the changes.

TV’s keep getting bigger and better yet this plan wants to fill it up with all types of graphics, stc.

Heck, get rid of the starters NBC likes to scroll through under their scoreboard, by the time they finished scrolling the line have changed.

It is not worth the effort, this is no a sport like baseball where the starters are the starters until they are pulled or replaced.

I don’t care how fast anyone is skating, shooting the puck, how long on the ice.  My eyes can see what is going on, don’t need information on the screen about it.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 01/28/19 at 11:07 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

I think NBC does a really great job with stats and tracking info during the NFL broadcasts.  The thing is, they provide all that info in between plays - not during the actual live play.  They show things like: seconds from the snap until the throw, the QB’s throwing motion, how fast the runner is going, the route he’s taking, wingspan of the receiver - all that stuff.  It’s a lot of info, and most of it doesn’t mean much for me, but I appreciate the data.  More so, I appreciate them providing it during the REPLAYS. 

Since football has more replay time than live time, they can easily get away with this; hockey on the other hand has much more live time than replay time so it’s less opportunistic to provide the stats during replays…especially when they’re probably dumping a bunch of money into these stats and want to be able to display the info as much as possible.

The less clutter on the screen, the better.  It’s why networks ditched the long banner score displays (remember the old VS. score display that stretched the entire screen?!) in favor of low profile ones in the corner.  A big reason I stay away from ESPN is all the crap they fill the screen with - sports news and scores from every league.  You think a 50 inch tv is big enough but you need a 60 inch once they shrink the game down for all the crap they display on the bottom!

Posted by TreKronor on 01/28/19 at 12:29 PM ET

Avatar

People used to watching hockey know where the puck is by watching the players.  New viewers trying to watch hockey by watching the puck will only be more confused.

I didn’t watch any of the game so I don’t know what technology they offered but there are things that they have added that I like (high speed cameras, goal line cameras), and there are things I would love to have the option - overhead camera where I can see the entire ice, an adult option where we can hear the on ice banter unfiltered.  So I’m glad that they’re continuing to try to make improvements.

Posted by Ventr on 01/28/19 at 12:57 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

I didn’t watch any of the game so I don’t know what technology they offered but there are things that they have added that I like (high speed cameras, goal line cameras), and there are things I would love to have the option - overhead camera where I can see the entire ice, an adult option where we can hear the on ice banter unfiltered.  So I’m glad that they’re continuing to try to make improvements.

Good points.  I remember a few years back, when Rogers won the NHL rights up in Canada and they wanted to “show off” their new studio and all that.  It was pretty cool.  But the coolest thing to me was all the improvements and cameras they installed at the Maple Leafs arena.  They had the cameras that would zoom up and down the ice which was a brand new development then, and a great way to watch the game.  Now it’s more standard, as are the cameras directly above the ice which follow the play.  Those are the kinds of developments I’m enjoying seeing. 

The puck tracking issue is real, and it’s a big turn-off to a lot of people who are trying to watch the sport.  As my vision gets worse I have a harder time seeing the puck/action, and had to get a bigger tv too.  It’s a lot easier when you know where to look, kind of like football, but when you aren’t used to watching the game you’re not quite sure where you should be looking. 

It’s a lot like when goals are scored.  Back when the Wings scored a lot (this was a long time ago, admittedly) I would focus on the actual net area when they were taking a shot, because the net would move before the light went off and anyone celebrated.  On the other hand, most people are watching the goalie and area in front of the goalie and they don’t see the puck go in because they are looking at the area in front of the goalie. 

All that said, I don’t want the glowing puck haha.

Posted by TreKronor on 01/28/19 at 01:08 PM ET

Avatar

I was watching both the online and broadcast feeds of the game going back and forth. I found all the new stats and graphics more of a distraction than adding any value. The only time where I though the graphics were actually of interest was during replays. If they have any intentions of bringing these to more live broadcasts they are making a huge mistake. It made it look like a video game. Guess what. I even turn off those displays in video games.

Now what might make some sense going forward is to allow the fan to CHOOSE what to see in an online broadcast. We might not be there yet but surely we can get there.

The dumbest idea is some of the screen shrinking that goes on for the enhanced stats. I know I definitely don’t want to sacrifice 1/3 of my computer’s display to given me shift times for the players.

Posted by evileye on 01/28/19 at 05:03 PM ET

Royal Grand Exalted PooBah's avatar

I watched a few minutes of the NBC feed and found the on screen graphics distracting. The big boxes with the players names took up too much space and were not opaque so if the puck went through it would block the vision of the puck. It was somewhat helpful during the all star game because I didn’t recognise many of the players because I don’t watch them regularly.

I wouldn’t want those graphics on live during the game except maybe in the seconds before a faceoff while they are taking positions. No puck tracking ever.

Posted by Royal Grand Exalted PooBah from the basement of the Alamo on 01/28/19 at 08:24 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

I thought I saw name bars for the 12 players on the ice.  Surprised the officials were not in the MESS.

As usual it is a stupid idea

I second that. It blocks out part of the action. Kill it. angry

Posted by bigfrog on 01/28/19 at 11:19 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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