Sports TV breakthroughs bring fans even closer to action
TheStar.com out of Toronto reports that GoPro cameras on players and refs, personal video uploaded to broadcast, player tracking technology next wave after skycams, netcams, high-def.
It’s hard to believe, but the NHL once considered television a threat to its bottom line.
The first NHL game ever televised in Canada — on Oct. 11, 1952 — was broadcast only from the start of the third period due to protests from the Montreal Canadiens, who believed showing games live would eat into ticket sales.
Citing the same fear, NHL president Clarence Campbell resisted the incursion of TV for years. But he also feared it would give hockey a bad rap.
“Fights, injuries, boarding and other rough tactics are the easiest to catch on television,” he told The Hockey News in 1949. “On the other hand, the fast end-to-end rushes, the skillful, attractive features of the game are most difficult to portray because of TV’s limited field of view.”
That “limited field of view” has expanded in the ensuing six decades far beyond anything Campbell could have imagined. With high-definition images, super-slow-motion replay, optical lenses and remote-controlled skycams, today’s viewer has been afforded more vantages than ever before, while also being drawn closer and closer to the action.
This past week the NHL announced a partnership with GoPro — the company that makes mountable lightweight cameras tailored to action sports — suggesting that viewers will soon be pulled onto the ice itself.