MSG Networks Showcases New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin With Dedicated Iso Camera, Graphics

Pregame, intermissions also will focus on the Rangers’ 2020 All-Star

If you’re a professional in the National Hockey League, you’re used to having all eyes on you when you hit the ice. On Friday night, MSG Networks is taking that feeling to a new level. During the New York Rangers vs. Buffalo Sabres telecast, the network will have an iso camera on star forward Artemi Panarin along with custom graphics and other specialized content. On MSG GO, digital fans can choose between the regular telecast or keeping a fixed eye on the 28-year-old Russian through a separate live stream.

“We picked Artemi Panarin because he was the perfect test case,” says Jeff Filippi, SVP, programming and production and executive producer, MSG Networks. “If it couldn’t work for him, it’s probably not going to work with anyone else, and, if it can work for him, there are other players that we think it could work for. The goal is potentially to do this again, so we’re going to go into this broadcast tonight to see where it takes us.”

Offseason Planning: The Idea Develops in the Summer Months
As for hockey players around the league, there isn’t a true “offseason” in live sports production. Skills and traits are refined on the ice, and the same can be said for MSG Networks inside its New York City office. With the goal of generating a new style of content, two top executives at the RSN went to work on an idea.

“The genesis of the idea came from our Senior Coordinating Producer Kevin Meininger, who oversees the Knicks and Rangers telecasts,” says Filippi. “He came up to me in the summer and had an idea using a ‘pop-up’ game, where, suddenly, there’s a game that pops-up and focuses on a certain player. We thought it was interesting, dug into a little more, and thought it was something that could become sponsorable.”

Noting the possibilities for many facets of the company, the RSN dispersed the plan, and crews hit the ground running. From broadcast execution and programming to the social-media avenues that could promote and distribute the product, the entire network was galvanized around this initiative.

“Like everything we do here, it became an ultimate team effort because everybody involved with the game came on board,” Filippi says. “We sort of put our heads together and said, ‘If we’re going to profile a player during a game, what’s the best way to do it?’”

Here Comes the Breadman: A Two-Box Format
At its technological core, the broadcast is fairly simple. With the regular camera complement in place at Madison Square Garden, a specified camera situated in one of the network’s slash positions will be focused on Panarin at all times. Although the entire game will have a bit of Panarin flair from start-to-finish, the party will start in the pregame at 6:30 p.m. ET.

After the night’s proceedings and how they deviate from a traditional game seen on the network are explained, a two-box format will be deployed to showcase Panarin’s warmups as well as New York Rangers Analysts Dave Maloney and Steve Valiquette inside the studio. The pair will run through the gamut of topics, including more-serious conversations on Panarin’s production throughout the current season with a look at the statistics and more lighthearted ones about his now-patented high–leg-kick celebration.

As the coverage transitions to puck drop, the iso camera will be fired up and ready to go. For the game portion, the technical team will start going to work to blend both the regular, wide shot of the ice and the two-box setup teased in the pregame.

“The viewer will get to see the action as we cover the game,” Filippi explains,
“and then, in the second box, you’ll see him on the bench talking to [Ryan] Strome, [Jesper] Fast, or whoever he’s playing with that night, standing up, and ultimately jumping over the boards. Once he enters into play, we’d lose the two-box, and, when his shift ends and he’s coming off the ice, we’d bring the two-box back.”

In addition to the iso camera, custom graphics about Panarin’s performance and other relevant information will appear onscreen. And, although these templates will incorporate sponsorship whenever possible, the creative department had some fun with developing a few concepts, especially “Panarin’s Work of Art.”

“It’ll be a roll where it’s as if you were walking through an art gallery,” says Filippi. “Each painting is an accomplishment that he has achieved some time this season.”

For fans who want a heavy dose of Panarin, MSG GO (the network’s OTT offering) will give viewers the chance to stream the linear broadcast or remain on the iso-camera feed to witness him on both the ice and the bench in real time with an accompaniment of natural sound.

Blueshirts Backstory: A Glimpse of Panarin’s Upbringing, Lifestyle
While the players rest up in the locker room during the intermission, fans at home can take a break from the action with the more personal side of the Rangers’ offseason signing.

“Between periods,” Filippi says, “we’ll be speaking with Rick Carpiniello from The Athletic, and he will tell the Panarin backstory: how he grew up in Russia and what he went through with his grandparents. In the second intermission, we’ll have Strome to talk about [Panarin] as a player and what makes him so great.”

In the intermission, digital consumers will see the same content they would see if they were watching on television. When the final horn sounds, the Panarin content will begin to dissolve into a normal, ordinary postgame, but Filippi and his team at MSG Networks  are scheduling a few other Panarin-esque features to close out the night.

“If you watch throughout the game and through the postgame, you’ll understand what we were trying to accomplish,” he says. “The programming coming out of the postgame, MSG Shorts, will start off with a couple of segments on Panarin as well.”

What’s Next: Network Ponders Future Player-Centric Telecasts
Putting Panarin at the center of its production universe is just another way that the RSN is creating new ways to engage its fanbase.

With an entity known for its innovation, the idea could potentially be used in a sports-betting application. For now, the network is poised to use this idea in different ways, including for other players on the Rangers, such as standouts Mika Zibanejad and Jacob Trouba, as well for other teams under its umbrella.

“We may see the broadcast, like it, but still know how to adjust it,” says Filippi. “There’s also no reason to not be able to do it with our other teams — like the Islanders, Devils, and Knicks. We want this to be an opportunity to spotlight our players, and we have enough [content] for the rest of the season if we wanted to do it a few more times.”

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