Like other leagues, the NHL continues to see a major uptick in video use and is looking for ways to make the most of it with fans and advertisers. Once heralded as the up-and-coming video player for the National Hockey League, the NHL Network Online is being benched today in favor of NHL VideoCenter, a less-cluttered, higher quality, more social contender with expanded content.
Unlike the first version, which took users to a new site — NHL.tv, this one is fully integrated with NHL.com. VideoCenter was developed with NeuLion, as was the predecessor that launched for the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs. The most visible change at first is the environment. The distracting, rotating ad panels are gone in favor of bolder pre-roll or banner ads, leaving more space for the player and a better chance for the advertiser to be noticed. The video window is larger. Sharing was available before but this player includes buttons for Twitter, Digg and Facebook plus the ability to resize the embedded player. A single highlight can be shared or the package.
Three new channels have been added: NHL Shootout Channel will show all NHL game shootouts start to finish; NHL Press Room is for breaking news and live press conferences; NHL Library is just that, classics and archives. Other channels already in place include highlights, plays of the week, podcasts and shows produced for the site.
According to *comScore,* the household income skews higher for NHL.com than the other major leagues, with nearly 57 percent earning more than $75,000 a year and 36 percent more than $100,000. The same *comScore* data had roughly 18 percent of uniques coming from outside North America; that percentage accounted for roughly 45 percent of NHL.com’s video starts.