Fans React to NHL Adding Virtual TV Ads on Rink Billboards

NHL
(Image credit: NHL)

The 2022-2023 NHL season is now underway and along with it, a new way of garnering new advertising revenues. 

Borrowing a script from other sports leagues, the NHL has now added virtual ads superimposed on barriers surrounding the hockey rink. These virtual ads are visible only to viewers watching from home but already have stirred controversy among some fans who contend that the fast moving sport is not conducive to this type of digital signage.    

“The NHL is instituting moving advertisements on the dasherboards that surround the rink, despite the fact that the play in the NHL tends to pinball wildly back-and-forth, and as a result, the camera has to pan quickly from side-to-side in order to follow the action,” writes HockeyBuzz.com. “There will likely exist scenarios during gameplay whereby the puck is moving in one direction while the advertising moves counter to the play, and the resulting discombobulation will distract from the product on the ice, not to mention the possibility for disorienting motion sickness.”

The NHL’s move towards motion advertising is a result of the impact Covid has had on the sport, which, unlike other major U.S. sports leagues, relies more on gate revenues, which comprised approximately 35% of operating revenue in 2019-2020, according to Statista.com. The league has also given permission to teams to sell advertisement patches on player uniforms and helmets.

Fans voiced their disapproval over Twitter: 

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One hockey fan even referenced an earlier NHL TV tech advance that failed miserably (remember the “glowing puck?)

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Although the move toward motion digital signage ads adds to NHL revenues, the addition of this feature could turn off potential new fans, HockeyBuzz.com writes. 

“The major problem with these new technology-based “solutions” will result from the portion of the public that already finds hockey difficult to follow due to its byzantine rules, quick-moving action and small puck.” 

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.