NHL Ramps Up New Production Studio at Hudson Yards NYC HQ for Stanley Cup Playoffs
The facility is deployed during Playoffs for Stanley Cup Stories and Third Period Live
As the NHL drops the puck on the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight, the league is flexing its production muscle with a new state-of-the-art studio in its new headquarters at One Manhattan West. The studio and accompanying control room, which launched this month for the Playoffs, is being used to produce the new Stanley Cup Stories YouTube digital series and will serve as home of the new Third Period Live second-screen experience on YouTube beginning with the Conference Finals.
“This is a multifaceted space that was built to be extremely flexible, which is what’s required in today’s production world,” says NHL Studios VP/Coordinating Director Matt Celli, who oversaw the project. “We can do a traditional sports show, or we can do a standup social-media– type show. Regardless of type of content, we can execute it in whatever look that our content team is looking for. We also have state-of-the-art LED walls and bleeding-edge technology in the control room, so there is plenty of [technological] firepower.”
The studio space, designed by Jack Morton Worldwide and fabricated by Black Walnut, features a 12- x 7-ft. LED display, five vertical 65-in. LED displays, and 12 horizontal monitor walls. The NHL has deployed two Panasonic PTZ box cameras and two more Panasonic robos on the ceiling (two Panasonic flypack robos are also used around the building). The new space also includes is a Telemetrics OmniGlide Robotic Roving Pedestal that helps add new on-screen looks and a wide range of possibilities to make creative use of the space.
“We are looking to put our best foot forward to be credible in the content world,” says Celli. “We wanted to make a flexible space that looks great that could be on broadcast but could also really sort of turn heads and open up eyeballs in the digital space.”
The SMPTE ST-2110-based facility was integrated by NEP and is built around an EVS Dyvi software-defined production switcher and Lawo IP router. Other key gear includes EVS XS 12-channel (eight in/four out) replay server, two Ross Xpression CG/graphics systems (four output channels total), and Clear-Com intercoms.
“This [facility] is lean and mean,” says Celli. “We have three or four people operating everything in here vs. a traditional production environment, which would require 10+. That’s thanks to the bleeding-edge technology we have in the control room, which provides a lot of [automation] and streamlines the workflow.”
In addition to the studio, the NHL has built out more than a half dozen full edit suites (along with thin clients that allow users to edit at their desks), as well as several audio-mixing and graphics rooms to serve the NHL Studios and NHL Original Productions teams.
“First and foremost, everything here talks to each other. Right now, I can log in to an edit room and watch an edit happen live,” NHL Chief Creative Officer/EVP Steve Mayer says of the new production facility. “The connectivity in this building is incredible, but we’ve also kept the connectivity to people’s homes as well. Whether you’re in the office, at home, or on the road, you still have access to everything.”
The studio debuted for the production Stanley Cup Stories, a VOD series released exclusively on YouTube every Thursday at 4 p.m. ET and featuring the best content from teams around the league.
Next up will be Third Period Live, which will go live exclusively on YouTube at the start of the third period for each game beginning with the Conference Finals. The show will serve as a companion experience to the linear broadcast and will feature a more casual and conversational format. In addition, the show will look to more deeply engage with the NHL fanbase by using chat clients available via YouTube.
“We want to create a sense of community where fans can come have fun with each other and engage with the host as well,” says Mayer. “It should feel like you’re sitting in your living room or at a sports bar with a bunch of your friends.”
He adds that Third Period Live will feature heavy integration of puck-and-player tracking, as well as a gambling component showing live odds and predictions. Similar to ESPN’s Manningcast and a cavalcade of other alternative presentations these days, Third Period Live will also feature celebrity guests brought into the show remotely.
Third Period Live will be streamed live exclusively on YouTube as part of the NHL’s focus on bringing more live content to the platform.
“We really want to get deeper into the YouTube space and create a community on YouTube where our fans can go and enjoy the live content that we’re creating,” says Mayer. “This is something that we haven’t done in the past: full-length feature show created specifically for that platform. We feel that there is definitely a future in that.