Premier Hockey Federation, VISTA Beef Up Production Complement for Isobel Cup Playoffs on ESPN+, ESPN2 

Championship game will be ESPN's first linear broadcast of pro women's hockey

The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), the top pro women’s ice-hockey league in North America, closes out its season in style on Monday with the Isobel Cup Championship Game broadcast on ESPN2 — marking the broadcaster’s first linear broadcast of professional women’s hockey — in the U.S. and TSN2 in Canada. With more eyeballs than ever expected to be watching the Isobel Cup Playoffs at AdventHealth Center Ice near Tampa Bay, FL, the PHF has teamed up with NEP’s VISTA Worldlink to deploy its biggest production of the year.

“Having the entire season of PHF games culminating with a championship on ESPN2 provides the league, teams, and players unprecedented exposure to grow the game,” says PHF’s executive media consultant Michael Cohen. “ESPN’s partnership has been extremely valuable to the league.”

The PHF (previously known as the NWHL) and VISTA worked together to produce all 60 regular-season PHF games and the All-Star Game broadcasts on ESPN+ in the U.S. (along with 36 games on TSN/TSN Direct in Canada and 30 distributed internationally via the league’s Twitch channel). VISTA has been in charge of delivering the live broadcasts for every one of the games via its centralized live-sports-production facility just north of Miami in Dania Beach, FL.

In one of 14 live-production-control rooms at VISTA Worldlink’s Florida facility, the game is cut and packaged before being shipped to ESPN for live streaming. Here, at the front bench for the Boston Pride–Connecticut Whale game are producer Justin Cohen (left) and director Gage Tillotson. (Photo: VISTA Worldlink)

“Having the opportunity to be on ESPN+ every week throughout our season has been game-changing for enhancing the profile of the PHF, introducing our athletes and telling their stories, and increasing visibility for professional women’s hockey,” says PHF Commissioner Tyler Tumminia. “The 2021-22 season has been truly historic for the PHF and for our athletes, who deserve the opportunity to compete for the Isobel Cup and raise it live on national television. We’re excited to put on a show in Tampa Bay and grow the game by inspiring new fans and reaching a larger broadcast audience across North America on ESPN2 and TSN2 who will enjoy the pinnacle of our season.”

Over the next four days, all five Isobel Cup Playoff Games will be produced from the VISTA South Florida facility, led by producer Justin Cohen and director Gage Tillotson. VISTA Director, Live Events, Steven Kravitz will be on hand to manage the onsite footprint, with a Rush Media mobile unit located at the venue. Between AdventHealth Center Ice and VISTA’s facility, the broadcasts will have more than 30 crew members working the games.

The Premier Hockey Federation is broadcasting all of its games this season for distribution on the streaming platform ESPN+ in the U.S. Camera operator Andrew Heaviside shoots a game between the Connecticut Whale and Boston Pride at Danbury Ice Arena in Danbury, CT. (Photo: VISTA Worldlink)

“The league did a great job securing the venue to host the entire playoffs, and it has given us a leg up on the planning,” VISTA Worldlink Executive Producer Mike Freedman says of the PHF’s selection of AdventHealth Center Ice for the playoffs. “Rather than waiting for teams to advance and booking travel and crews last minute, we were able to plan well in advance and take advantage of enhancing the earlier-round games with all of the games at the same venue.”

Five cameras were deployed for PHF game productions during the regular season, and the camera complement will be roughly doubled for the playoffs. The games will have extra Marshall POV cameras — including in the tunnel to the locker rooms — as well as an ENG crew onsite. Using the public internet for primary backhaul transmission, VISTA will bring all the camera feeds and audio feeds into its facility to create the broadcast.

All PHF games are produced via an “at-home” workflow from VISTA Worldlink’s production hub. Announcers call the action off screens at the facility in South Florida. Here analyst Katie Gaus (foreground) and play-by-play announcer Joe Malfa call a game between the Boston Pride and Connecticut Whale from a booth at VISTA. (Photo: VISTA Worldlink)

As they have throughout the season, announcers will call games off monitors in booths at VISTA. Steve Goldstein, voice of Florida Panthers, will serve as play-by-play announcer for the preliminary round tonight and the championship game on Monday; Josh Eastern will handle play-by-play duties for the semifinals on Sunday. Alexis Pearson is analyst for all games, and Katie Gaus will be rink-side reporter Sunday and Monday.

On Monday night, a special pregame show will air at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+ leading up to the Final on ESPN2 (TSN in Canada will also pick up the pregame show and championship-game broadcasts). Josh Eastern and Erica Ayala will host the pregame show, which will also be produced from VISTA’s facility.

“We are extremely excited about the championship pregame show leading up to the final on ESPN2 on Monday night,” says Freedman. “ESPN has been a valuable partner, and we are excited to have Josh Eastern and Erica Ayala, who have been constant voices on games for the league this year, host the show.”

SVG Director of Digital Brandon Costa contributed to this article. Check out the full PHF Isobel Cup Playoffs schedule below:

Friday, March 25 – Preliminary Round
4:00 p.m. ET – 3rd Place vs 6th Place (ESPN+ and TSN Direct)
7:30 p.m. ET – 4th Place vs 5th Place (ESPN+ and TSN Direct)

Sunday, March 27 – Semifinals
1:00 p.m. ET – 1st Place vs Lowest Remaining Seed (ESPN+ and TSN Direct)
4:30 p.m. ET – 2nd Place vs Highest Remaining Seed (ESPN+ and TSN Direct)

Monday, March 28 – Final
9:00 p.m. ET – Winner of Semifinal 1 vs Winner of Semifinal 2 (ESPN2 and TSN2)




Password must contain the following:

A lowercase letter

A capital (uppercase) letter

A number

Minimum 8 characters


The Latest in Sports Video Production & Technology
in Your Inbox for FREE

Daily Email Newsletters Monday - Friday