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NHL “Bubble” Games Go Hollywood for Season 2020 Start Again

TV hockey returns without fans in seats and teams competing on bright, rough ice surfaces as in a shiny floor entertainment show.

The National Hockey League is restarting its 2020 season with the pandemic era with Grammy winner Michael Buble singing the national anthem for the opening New York Rangers vs Carolina Hurricanes match-up on Saturday.

But in addition to this, NBC, NBCSN and NHL Network viewers will be on the sidelines and the Sportsnet and CBC audiences in Canada will see games that, unlike ever, are broadcast when the pro hockey league looks to save a season that was destroyed by COVID. 19-public health crisis.

They will not be jubilant or moaning fans in packed positions when goals are scored, and team players over the next 60 days will be divided into so-called “bubble”

; hotels and arenas in Toronto and Edmonton as security measures. And as the NHL’s top content officer Steve Mayer says THR, the pro league never intended to release a hockey puck in quiet, cold arenas.

It’s a big challenge because the hum and the blossoming noise of fans rallying behind their teams during the Stanley Cup play-offs every year is a big part of the energy and buzz that crosses the screens to connect with the TV audience. Nor will the NHL hide empty seats in Toronto’s Scotiabank and Edmonton’s Rogers Place arenas with virtual fan walls or cardboard cutouts.

“With all due respect to my Korean friends, there is no way we would put stuffed animals in the seats,” Mayer says of Korean baseball filling empty stands with plush toys. The NHL, which ends a four-month pandemic hiatus, has instead gone to Hollywood game modes and created giant televisions to bring fans in over 160 countries closer to the action.

In games played behind closed doors, EA Sports will pump in the amount of noise and the lower levels of both arenas will be surrounded by mega graphic panels, six LED screens that rise 30 meters in the air and scenes. “We want to give them a show,” Mayer said of team fans watching from home, surrounded by friends and family or connected to other fans via social media, Zoom and other platforms.

On these giant arena video screens, viewers will see zoomed-in video, game exchanges, taped pieces about their NHL heroes, team logos and graphics from Undefined Creative by super fans from each team cheering at home. “We brought in a Hollywood lighting director for the awards show. We brought in designs from entertainment and Broadway. We saw this as a bespoke television event,” Mayer insists.

In addition to additional cameras for new angles on the game, the bubble broadcasts will feature piped-in team cheers, songs and goal horns from each NHL team as sound. And rink-level microphones will enhance the game’s natural sound – stopping metal skates on the ice, slamming shots and players colliding on the boards.

NHL telecommunications, however, will be on a small band delay, but to edit colorful language from players on the ice or team benches, which is largely part of the traditional game. “We know we have kids and family watching, it’s important for the league,” said Mayer.

Returning this weekend to start the NHL playoffs in hubs is crucial for the NHL because, like other pro leagues, it lost millions if it had to go without TV revenue tied to the game after the season.

Mayer as a sports fan has watched European football and now Major League Baseball and the NBA Stateide are starting their 2020 seasons in the midst of the pandemic, insisting that the NHL did not consciously take another effort with its splashy TV broadcasts resembling shiny floor talent shows.

“It’s amazing that sport is back and we in no way tried to be different. We just felt this was the right way for us,” he says. Complicating the preparations for the NHL’s season restart 2020 is all that needs to be done on the go.

In early May, the NHL knew a seasonal launch was in the works, but the league did not know in which hub cities. The NHL looked at ten cities in North America as possible tournament venues and efforts across North America to tackle coronavirus spread.

“When you saw what was happening in areas in the United States and what was happening in Canada, it was a pretty simple decision. We went to where COVID was not a big problem,” Mayer said, choosing Toronto and Edmonton as hub cities. . Then the pro-league decided on a strict cordon around all NHL team players, coaches and staff, which requires that everyone never comes out of hotels and courts hidden behind cement blocks and black curtains to interact with the outside world.

“There is no hassle. Our protocols are so strong and strict. I wear a mask. Everyone wears a mask and social distancing. Everywhere,” Mayer explains. And to create the bespoke TV events, the NHL decided against weeks of phone calls and design drawings with its set builders, led by Hotopp Productions, and quickly went to 3D modeling and design.

In addition to this weekend’s relaunch, Mayer and his team are already examining how they will broadcast the NHL’s most authentic TV tradition – raising the Stanley Cup by playoff-winning teams – without shouting and applauding fans in team colors at the arena.

“We know we have to give the moment it depends on and make it special and make it unique for this year, what we all go through and make it memorable because 20 years from now everyone will be talking about this time period, this playoffs. , this is so different, he insists.

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