In 2018, the NHL began running an online pregame show ahead of Stanley Cup Final matchups. The show (fittingly titled Stanley Cup Live), streamed on Facebook last year. It was successful enough that the league is offering an additional way to watch, streaming the show on Twitter as well as Facebook this year.
Tim Peterson at Digiday has the details on the change, which as you’d expect, is an effort by the NHL to meet a younger audience where they are:
Starting on May 27, the NHL will live stream “Stanley Cup Live” on both Facebook and Twitter before each game of the Stanley Cup Final. In addition to streaming the show on Facebook and Twitter, the NHL has a sponsor for this year’s edition of “Stanley Cup Live.”
The livestream will largely center on Facebook to take advantage of the social network’s interactive features, but the league has opted to simulcast the show on Twitter in order to reach more people and push them to tune into the TV broadcast of games.
“We want to get this as far and wide as possible. Twitter is very much our most real-time platform,” said Sean Dennison, director of social media at the NHL. Both Facebook and Twitter are effective at reaching younger viewers and offer tools for the league to pay to promote the livestream to reach more viewers on the platforms, he said. Last year, 56% of “Stanley Cup Live” viewers were between the ages of 18 and 34 years old, according to an NHL spokesperson.
The show will be hosted by NHL Network anchor Jackie Richmond and NHL vet Adam Burish, and like last year will feature plenty of interactive elements, although participation will be limited to Facebook viewers by the nature of the platform.
During the livestream, viewers on Facebook will be able to participate in polls and leave questions in comments that the shows’ hosts and guests will answer on camera. Viewers on Twitter will be able to see those live poll results and comments within the stream but will not be able to participate, though they will be able to post comments that other viewers on Twitter will be able to see during the livestream. The Twitter stream “will be a bit more of a passive consumption, but it will still be entertainment,” said Dennison.
This is just the latest example of a major sports league diving further and further into social distribution for programming. While some notable organizations are pulling out entirely over concerns with the social media companies involved, leagues aren’t likely to pass up audience channels any time soon.