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NHL Network Online - Reviewed

There have been a number of stories published today on the launch of the new NHL Network Online.  To read more about it, check out these:

“NHL Tries to Score in Digital World to Woo Fans” (The CP)
“Can the NHL’s Web Strategy Make a Difference” (Conde Nast)
“NHL Net Online Debuts” (NHL Press Release, via Eye on the Media)

Being fascinated by the NHL’s digital media initiatives in general, I spent some time on the new site this morning, and have some first impressions to share. 

Some good, some bad:

  • Plus: The interface is very user-friendly, infinitely moreso than previous video provisions through NHL.com.

  • Minus: The flash advertising (at least what comes up for my Canadian IP address) semi-frequently interferes with my ability to interact with the library of shows. (i.e. a Scotia ad popped up on me every so often, and simply wouldn’t get out of the way for me to access the controls - I was forced to reload the page).

  • Plus: The network’s show offerings are a solid start. The Hockey Show is a great idea for NHL highlights (although I’ll withhold judgment on the show’s hosts for now). And the Playoff Channel is timely for the launch.  Also great to see the NHL’s podcasts and radio shows archived on the page.

  • Minus: Video material from individual teams—the short features they produce throughout the season—are nowhere available on this page (that I can find).  I would argue that this new site should be the destination point for ALL NHL video and multimedia, now that the team websites are all underneath the NHL.com domain umbrella. (Don’t make people look for stuff, NHL; part of my job with Kukla’s Korner is to find stuff on that NHL site, and even I struggle with it half the time. Don’t expect the average fan to be running all over the place searching out the different media you offer.)

  • Plus: The flash video itself has very few hitches. For some reason, my internet connection generally causes me problems with this, but within the NHL Network Online, I’ve had almost no problems.  A major bonus.

  • Minus: The technology for embedding the material on other websites and blogs is still very imperfect.  Kukla’s Korner, for instance, generally works around the issues, but I know plenty of bloggers who find it’s not worth the hassle. I’m not sure what the solution is, but the NHL should bear in mind that embedding YouTube (for example) causes zero problems for most webmasters—why does the NHL’s flash video have so many problems in this regard?  Something to keep working on—embedding is a major part of what makes multi-media a viral success.

Overall, I’m actually pretty impressed. The NHL—while often full of good ideas—frequently stumbles upon execution.  For an opening day launch, this site shows a lot of promise, though I’ll look forward to a lot more meaningful new content in the future.

The user experience for these kind of things tends to be very individual (based on their computers systems, internet habits, etc) so I’m sure others will have different impressions to share.  But I think it’s fair to say this is a solid start. 

Update April 30, 2008:
Since originally posting this review, the NHL Network Online has posted a technical FAQ page which hopefully will help people with some of the more basic obstacles.  I imagine that page will be evolving as they get feedback.


Filed in: NHL Media, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: digital+media, internet, media, nhl+network+online


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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

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.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com