The negotiations about the proposed NHL-Showtime all-access show covering the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final have apparently concluded, as Awful Announcing has learned that the Showtime all-access hockey is now a done deal. The yet to be named series will differentiate from previous all-access NHL shows on Epix and HBO in that they’ll be 30 minutes each instead of a full hour. (This isn’t intended to replace the Winter Classic show, either, but to supplement it.) The series will begin airing on May 20th and will have four or five episodes depending on the length of the Stanley Cup, as a sweep would limit the series to four episodes.
Not a big shocker is the involvement of Ross Greenburg, the famed producer and former president of HBO Sports. Greenburg was heavily involved with the initial 24/7 broadcasts on HBO around the Winter Classic, personally overseeing the first season (Penguins-Capitals in 2010), and has been leading the recent all-access show on Epix around the last few Winter Classics and Stadium Series games. Greenburg has been involved with Showtime’s growing sports documentary efforts, too, as he was the executive producer of what was a pretty stellar all-access show following Notre Dame last season, as well as last year’s Dean Smith documentary.
While all-access shows have been on the rise the last few years, with the likes of Epix, Amazon, BTN, Pac-12 Network, and others joining HBO and Showtime, this will be one of the rare instances in which the series will conclude at the more natural ending point; the crowning of a champion.
Many hockey fans have been critical of the recent Epix shows, pointing to various creative decisions as well the overall production value especially in comparison to the initial HBO ones. Some of that may just be viewer fatigue, but trying to stack up favorably with HBO can often be an uphill battle. It will be interesting to see how the Showtime shows go, and if upping the stakes (this is now all-access around the playoffs, not a single regular-season game) helps win fans over again.