HockeyTV Brings Fans and Scouts 20,000 Games a Year
The rebranded service gathers data from amateur leagues in the U.S. and Canada
Talk about a bargain: HockeyTV lets rink fans live-stream 20,000 games per year for $24.99 a month. That works out to a little over a penny per game — and it doesn’t even get into the library of 100,000 on-demand videos.
Launched at the start of this season, HockeyTV is run by hockey-technology and analytics company HockeyTech, which bought video site FastHockey last year and now has enhanced, rebranded, and relaunched it. The original site had gathered video from amateur-hockey leagues, but HockeyTech Chairman/CEO Stu Siegel thought the site could do even more. As a former co-owner of the Florida Panthers, he knows the value of player data to scouts and teams.
“They basically had a portal where viewers can go, fans can go and watch these games streamed through. They were pretty early in developing some technology to make it easy for teams and leagues to stream their games, to record them and stream them live,” Siegel says. “My goal was to look at other ways we could use that video data and look at ways we could make the experience better for both fans and the viewers, as well as on the professional side.”
HockeyTech provides technology to the leagues, such as scouting, scoring, and player-management software used in the NHL and major junior and minor professional organizations. The company also runs a worldwide network of scouts who search out talent.
For Siegel, FastHockey wasn’t a new line of business but merely an extension of what his company was already doing. “We were really strong on what I call the pure-data services, but we always thought that video was just another form of data,” he says.
The site is for players, families, and fans, as well as for scouts looking for the next Great One. HockeyTV provides a data-immersive experience, surrounding videos with box scores, access to rosters, and information about players.
After acquiring FastHockey, HockeyTech spent the better part of a year improving it. The first goal was to enhance the user experience and ensure that the improved interface was available on every device. The company also needed to build pipelines for data, so viewers can call up stats from HockeyTech’s database of amateur teams and players.
Once that was done, HockeyTech decided to rebrand its service because it felt like a whole new product. It has a professional look that shows where Siegel wants it to grow in the future.
“We want HockeyTV to become the place for consumers to know to go if they want to watch hockey, everything but NHL hockey,” he explains. “Right now, I would say we can stake our claim to being the place to go to watch amateur hockey because we pretty much have all of it, but not any pro hockey, which we’d love to have in the future.”
The service offers games from about 50 leagues, representing men’s, women’s, and even sled hockey. Most content is from the U.S. and Canada. On any given weekend, 150 games might be streamed. Siegel has had discussions with pro leagues and is hopeful about where the service could go in the future.
HockeyTV also offers a few advanced features. A recording tool called My FastHockey lets viewers create clips of favorite moments while watching a game and store clips in a personal library. There’s no time limit on clips or on the number of clips a subscriber can store. A chat feature lets subscribers talk while watching a game. Videos have a maximum resolution of 1080p; HockeyTV doesn’t yet support 4K.
The company offers separate features, tools, and pricing for teams and scouts. Leagues and teams can choose from two levels of access (all games, leagues, and teams or only their own games, leagues, and teams) and access tools for downloading and syndicating clips. Scouts can use HockeyTV Pro, a bundled service that includes access to HockeyTech’s RinkNet player-information system.
HockeyTV is available on web browsers, Android and iOS mobile devices, and Roku boxes. The company has submitted apps for Google Chromecast and Apple TV and is waiting on approval.
The company’s 75 employees did most of the work on HockeyTV in-house, even creating a proprietary encoder. Akamai is the content-delivery network, Rackspace provides hosting, and Recurly manages subscription information. There’s no advertising on HockeyTV, but leagues are free to sell their own ads and keep the profits.
Although the retooled service has just been launched, Siegel sees big things ahead.
“I think it’s an offering that just hasn’t been out there for the hockey world,” he says. “It’s really easy to get to NHL games, but there’s a whole other world of hockey and an exponential number of games of quality hockey that we’re providing access to. We’re not looking to compete with the NHL, but we’re trying to bring hockey fans easier and better access to more and more games.”