Disney and ESPN are partnering with NHL to premiere the first-ever live animated hockey game. And if that word salad of jumbled nonsense sounds confusing, you aren’t the only one.
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When you watch an NHL hockey game, you look forward to the action, stunning coordination, and even the brawls. However, tonight will be a different experience for those watching the game on ESPN+.
For context, according to ESPN, “The “NHL Big City Greens Classic” features live, real-time volumetric animations of players and teams modeled after characters on the Emmy Award-winning show Big City Greens.
“We weren’t thinking about this stuff,” said David Lehanski, the NHL’s executive VP for business development and innovation. The NHL has used technology for years to track its players for data and analytics. The organization has been considering new ways to incorporate tracking technology into broadcast, but this was the last thing they had in mind. Leave it to Disney to take things to a cartoonish level.
In a promo for the event, the character Cricket Green from Big City Greens calls up the real NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, and asks if they can move a real NHL hockey game to his neighborhood after destroying his television while watching a hockey game. This is a stretch of a premise to incorporate this technology into a cartoon storyline, but there it is.
The guinea pig NHL teams being used for this event are the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers at the world-famous Madison Square Garden. And while this whole thing seems like a weird synergy fever dream, it’s geared toward kids who are fans of both Big City Greens and hockey. However, some NHL fans are not too excited about this.
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Hockey is a beloved sport, with diehard fans nationwide and in Canada. Many fans take the sport very seriously. It’s known for its no-holds-barred roughness and endurance. Some fans might see this as a slap in the face to the brutal sport.
It’s worth mentioning the regular broadcast of the game will still be aired on ESPN, and it’s claiming to be a “one-time” only event. The organization believes this will open doors for more creative ideas in hockey broadcasting. As for Disney, this could also be their attempt at making ESPN more relatable to their audience.
The NHL and ESPN hope to bring in a new audience to the sport, but it might be questionable who that audience is supposed to be. Although, a cartoon break-out brawl on the ice would be very exciting to see.
Do you think this could ruin the hockey experience for fans? Let us know in the comments below.