While browsing through my daily hockey reading, I came upon an interesting story on Puck Daddy. The NHL Network, a substandard highlight network for the NHL, will undergo some serious changes in the near future. The changes made should finally bring relevance to the channel and give hockey fans a reason to watch the network.
Continue after the jump to see the proposed changes to the league's network!
The league’s COO, John Collins, got the ball rolling on proposed changes to the network. Earlier in the summer, Collins admitted that the league wanted their network to become more than spirited “talk radio” debate. Collins, who was once an NFL executive, turned to Charles Coplin, the former vice president of programming with the NFL, to begin creating new content. Coplin was named the NHL’s vice president of content, which involved developing and maintaining relationships with local media and managing the content on NHL.com, NHL network and other social media platforms.
Coplin made two big announcements, which should begin a drastic change of the network. The first is that the league intends to take over its studio from CTV, a Canadian television network, and build it’s own Hi-Def studio in Toronto. For those who watch the studio segments on NHL Network, this is a welcome relief. CTV’s standard definition looked terrible, and the studio looked bland. This makeover will do wonders for the network, as its analysts can now present themselves in the most modern of studios. If done right, the new studio should give instant respect to the network’s “NHL on the Fly” and “NHL Live” programs.
The second announcement involved a shakeup in the network’s programming. The channel will no longer be home to constant game reruns and highlight-reel films. Coplin intends to make the network into a news-gathering organization. Coplin, who oversaw a similar transition with NFL Films, believes this will bring relevancy to the network.
“When Brett Favre stubbed his toe, every media outlet covered it,” Coplin said. “At NFL Network, we would cover stories and compete with the other guys. Here, on many days, we’ll be the only ones doing the work. We have to make sure our fans trust us.”
Both of these announcements are positive signs going forward for the NHL Network. For too long, it’s been irrelevant to most hockey fans. Don’t get me wrong, some of their ideas were great. This summer’s Stanley Cup winner series was fun to watch, and I appreciated watching the Devils win their three cups. But, too often, this is the only programming the network will run. There is no news show or any platform to break news. When the Ilya Kovalchuk contract was rejected, the network didn’t even run a breaking news story on it.
My hope is that this network can develop similarly to the MLB Network. For those of you who don’t watch/get the channel, the MLB Network runs a nightly in-studio segment, “MLB Tonight”, which gives game previews and frequently checks in with live games. The analysts do work a long night, but it gives fans the ability to simultaneously see multiple games while listening to analysis on teams throughout the league. The station also features “Quickpitch”, a simple highlight show with one host showing all the games throughout the day and giving previews for the following day’s matches. The “Quickpitch” format would seamlessly transition to “NHL on the Fly,” remaking a program that, I admit, is somewhat frustrating to watch.
Hopefully, the network will begin a dramatic improvement. There’s so many possibilities out there, including a fantasy hockey spot and a possible “Hard Knocks” type show for NHL camps. The fans deserve a stellar network, and the changes made in the near future will hopefully go a long way toward achieving that goal.