Live From NHL Stadium Series: NBC Sports Has Outdoor-Game Model Down Pat
It may not be New Year’s Day, but there’s still something about outdoor hockey that instantly gives it the tenor of a marquee event. 70,000-plus fans packed Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, on Saturday for the latest in the NHL Stadium Series, and, on the television side, it had all the dressings of a major production.
NBC Sports Group filled the stadium with 19 cameras: jibs, super-slo-mos, handhelds, even a camera on a fixed-wing airplane. Yet, as robust as the arsenal may be, make no mistake about it, NBC Sports has these outdoor game productions down to a science.
Since the first NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day 2008, NBC Sports has netted plenty of experience turning outdoor hockey into television gold. Ken Goss, SVP, remote operations and production planning, NBC Sports, noted that the combination of NBC’s familiarity with these events and the advanced, broadcast-friendly technology built into Levi’s Stadium made for a particularly painless, single-day setup at this year’s edition.
“The Stadium Series is something that we have built a model to,” says Goss. “This is basically a direct reflection of what we did at Yankee Stadium [in 2014]. “What was good about Levi’s Stadium was the great connectivity and great access. Good weather was a bonus. I think everything worked well.”
Working out of its top hockey truck, NEP’s ND5, NBC Sports shared a compound and selected resources with Canadian broadcaster Rogers SportsNet. NBC also deployed some production personnel and some technical resources from the network’s local Comcast SportsNet affiliate, CSN Bay Area/California.
With onsite studio sets and between-period entertainment from musical guests like John Fogerty and Melissa Etheridge, Stadium Series broadcasts are about a whole lot more than just the action on the ice. Extra jibs and talent inside the bowl allow NBC Sports to keep inside the atmosphere of the event from beginning to end.
“The unique venue, the size of the [TV] audience, the spectators in the stadium are all exciting,” says Goss. “When you put a hockey arena inside of a football stadium, it is so unique. Those aerial pictures we get give such a presence. Outdoor hockey is for the passionate fan, and it just adds to the excitement of the game.”