NHL Delivers New Wave of Connected Team Mobile Apps

A new — full! — NHL season is well under way, and, for fans of 14 of the league’s clubs, it has meant a whole new connected experience.

New team-specific apps from the NHL feature enhanced content including real-time game data.

New team-specific apps from the NHL feature enhanced content including real-time game data.

The NHL launched team-specific apps for iOS and Android devices that feature enhanced content, including real-time game data, postgame video highlights, pre- and post-game editorial content, multiple alert settings for team and game news, customized video and editorial feeds and channels, interactive team rosters, photo galleries, and more.

“These apps are more visually appealing than some of the template apps that some other vendors provide,” says John Pacino, VP, digital design, at the NHL. “We took a focus on rich media and rich imagery during the design phase. We then tried to incorporate some of the things we learned from iOS 7 and some of the other products that have been released with iOS 7, making a very clean design and focusing on the experience while still delivering the content that both the fans and the teams want. I think we deliver a better experience.”

Powered by NeuLion, a longtime digital partner of the NHL, the individual club-branded apps offer exclusive team content and interactive features in an engaging user interface, allowing fans to connect with their favorite teams anytime anywhere.

“This is not a sports app with hockey video,” says Chris Wagner, EVP, marketplace strategy, at NeuLion. “We designed this app specifically for hockey and specifically for a hockey fan. That experience for the hockey fan was very important to both the league and the clubs. All of the features and content in that app create an experience that is more than just streaming hockey.  It’s being able to interact with the game, and the rosters, and the line changes, and the replays. It’s built for hockey.”

HD video is at the center of the apps, especially for teams like the Los Angeles Kings that have strong  video production outfits.

HD video is at the center of the apps, especially for teams like the Los Angeles Kings that have strong video-production outfits.

The league has leveraged NeuLion’s platform in order to streamline the video-publishing process for teams. The workflow allows teams to fast-publish content via the NeuLion platform’s workflow that they have already been using on a regular basis to program their Websites.

“What we’re hoping is, more content gets out there both at the club and league level and that it’s shared back and forth,” says Wagner, adding that video in the app is HD-adapted and delivered at different bitrates for iOS and Android devices.

The apps — which were a collaborative effort between the NHL, the participating clubs, and the league — also place a premium focus on social content, including videos, Instagram, and Twitter. In the development process, the NHL gave the teams plenty of input to help customize their app to their team’s strengths.

“Certain teams have a strong brand in the market or have stronger feelings on how to brand some of the features and functionality,” says Pacino. “Since this is our initial release, we wanted to provide the flexibility for the teams who wanted to be a little bit different and use the template as much as possible to do so or might not necessarily have the resources to build and support an app on their own. This gives them the ability to get that app out to their fans while maintaining their current set of resources or workflows.”

The 14 teams that have launched apps are the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, and Vancouver Canucks.

Two more teams will be added to that list in the coming weeks, Pacino notes, declining to disclose which. He also says the league and NeuLion are looking into ways to incorporate more in-arena features.

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