Usually the new-look focus at the start of a hockey season is on the teams — or in some cases, the owners. This year, NHL.com, the National Hockey League’s online headquarters, gets in on the action with the Wednesday launch of a public beta version, live subscription game video viewable from any U.S. market and a new co-branded premium fantasy game with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Sports. The changes and additions fit into the overall strategy of the NHL as media company. They also represent a mix of free info, live games and archived video and features that probably are more than enough for the average fan and premium projects for the most avid.
— NHL GameCenter Live: The NHL has had streaming game video but this is subscription “TV quality” — and “live online, no matter where they live.” Scheduled for an October launch, subscriptions run $159 until Oct. 15 and $169 after that for a full season with weekly and half-season packages. They include access to full archived video and the NHL’s real-time data feed. A free trial will be offered Oct. 10-12. The package keys off of NHL GameCenter, NHL immersive nightly show. For the second season, subscribers can watch up to four games simultaneously. They also can connect with each other during the games — and buy game photos from Getty Images (NYSE: GYI). More after the jump.
— Fantasy sports: You don’t have to be in a fantasy league to know that fantasy sports = revenue stream. The NHL is the first league to develop a co-branded free fantasy sports game with Yahoo. The company and the league say this marks the first time a fantasy sports product integrates actual game footage. The NHL’s release describes it as “premium” but sign-up is free.
— The look: Lots and lots of black and gray with scattered white and red (games in progress). The scoreboard across the top stays but is easier to read. The images in the front-page player that rotates through stories are bolder and pop more. The site is still cluttered; then again, one person’s clutter is another person’s easy-access system.
Current NHL.com look (click to enlarge):