NHL All-Star 2016: New-Look NHL Network Adds Onsite Studio

Coverage this weekend shows off results of the network’s merger with MLB Network

It has been a wild five months in Secaucus, NJ, since the NHL Network and the MLB Network merged to redesign the operations of the hockey league’s North American linear-television strategy.

So far so good. The network has taken great strides forward and been met with strong reviews by both industry specialists and hockey fans. Now, with the NHL All-Star Weekend lined up in Nashville this weekend, the two sides have yet another tentpole opportunity to show the fruits of their hard work.

A new set inside Bridgestone Arena is designed to look like it’s on the ice.

A new set inside Bridgestone Arena is designed to look like it’s on the ice.

“It’s been nothing but the best,” says Eric Eisenberg, VP, programming and operations, NHL Network. “All of the production and operations folks have been just phenomenal. It was a quick turnaround, but I think it really came together well. I have nothing but positive things to say about how both sides handled this. We are very happy with the product, and it will continue to evolve as we go along.”

Beginning with Media Day today, NHL Network will offer live coverage of the NHL All-Star festivities in Nashville, with onsite coverage centered on a sharp new set inside Bridgestone Arena.

The NHL Network and MLB Network teams, led by Tom Guidice, VP, remote operations, MLB Network, have designed and erected a new set with the Filmwerks team. Built up on scaffolding to offer a better backdrop of the playing surface, the set is designed to look like it’s on ice itself and even features its own dasher boards along the back.

According to Guidice, who has established a strong reputation for expertise in onsite studio sets, one advantage that hockey has over baseball is that coordinating with the arena in-venue entertainment schedule is easier. The lack of weather impact certainly doesn’t hurt, either.

NHL is deploying 14 cameras for Media Day coverage before scaling down to nine cameras and sharing resources with NBC Sports and Rogers as part of its pre/post-event coverage for Skills Competition on Saturday and the All-Star Game itself on Sunday. NHL Network will work out of Dome Productions’ Journey, the same truck it used for similar coverage of the NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day.

“[The NHL] is incredibly buttoned up,” says Susan Stone, SVP, operations and engineering, MLB Network. “They know their stuff. They spend a lot of time with us. So it’s been a really smooth transition. Plus, our experiences from the baseball side are very easily translatable to hockey. We’re also really hoping to get new stuff from hockey that we can take over to baseball.”

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