NHL Notebook: League claims feedback indicates digital board ads make hockey “easier to watch on television”

Cam Lewis
8 months ago
Do you enjoy watching an animated vehicle drive into a defenceman carrying the puck up the ice? How about when players in white jerseys disappear into the boards?
If your answer was “Yes” to either of the above, the NHL would like to speak to you for a survey.
According to an article at ESPN from Greg Wyshynski, the league is considering making changes to the Digitally Enhanced Dasherboards that were implemented last season. Though the NHL is aware of criticisms that fans made about digital board ads, the league said it has heard feedback that the technology makes hockey easier to watch on television.
“It was certainly the vocal minority. There’s plenty of folks that think it’s a much better viewing experience to watch the game,” said Keith Wachtel, the NHL’s chief business officer and executive vice president of global partnerships.
“The overwhelming sentiment was that the cleanliness of the boards is less jarring for the viewership. That it blends in more. Other than when [the ads] might change where people notice it, the prevailing thought is that they’re kind of in the background,” he said.
The benefit of the technology from the league’s perspective is obvious. Teams can sell in-person board advertisements that are relevant to their local market and then larger brands can purchase advertising space that’s only seen on television broadcasts by a larger audience. But from a viewer’s perspective, the ads have been criticized for having glitches and animations that distract from the play.

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The league said that it made some improvements to the technology during the season based on the feedback, including tweaking the brightness of the ads and adding some motion-blurring so that they would blend in better. One of the things that the NHL is looking at for next season is the use of motion in advertisements.
“Yes, there is the occasional funny meme of the car going one way and the player skating another way. Very infrequent, when you look at the totality of how many ads are running. We limit [the movement] to a few seconds,” Wachtel said. “What we are doing, though, is continuing to look at what the motion is. At this point, we’re not making any big changes, but we are looking at ways to perhaps tweak it — to look at where and how these ads appear versus where the players and the puck might be at that moment on the ice.”

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