The puck drops tomorrow and fans across the world are waiting with bated breath to watch the games. None more than the European NHL fans as the situation over broadcast rights is still up in the air. Fans have been campaigning across social media platforms to raise the issue to NHL and those involved. Even Brent Burns from the San Jose Sharks re-tweeted one of the #NHLTV4Europe tweets last night.
The last few days has seen Puck Daddy put a story together on the issue and even quoted the open letter I put together. I was just trawling twitter and I saw one of my followers Teemu Tammilehto (@tammarii) tweet that there is a TV agreement in place and that Game Centre Live has been blocked.
A thread on HF boards has users in Nordic countries saying that Game Centre Live is blocked and many other users from countries such as Germany are reporting similar problems. It would transpire that there is a broacast agreement in place for the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark) would have a TV deal in place with Viasat. But reading the comments on HF Boards, it would seem that the decision has enraged many fans (read the thread here: http://hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=943727&page=16).
To me this is an encouraging step, but still a double edged sword situation. In my initial blog and the follow up I said that the NHL needs a TV deal in Europe and a presence online, but with the broadcast agreement now in place, it would appear that the online broadcasting rights are up in the air.
Users who subscribed to Game Centre Live have received the following message:
“Unfortunately, NHL GameCenter Live is no longer available in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. The NHL is now being broadcast in your region through Viasat.
A refund has been applied to your account. Please allow 7-10 business days to see this reflected back on your credit card statement.
NHL Web Support”
I’ve been critical of the Game Centre Live route, but don’t get me wrong, the GCL is a great product but with most internet providers failing to deliver the promised speeds, users would have hugely differing experiences with watching games. For me personally GCL would’ve been a painstaking experience, much like watching the World Championships through IIHF.com.
However, as Viasat now has rights to broadcast games, there is no indication whether there will be online broadcasts and to what degree. The NHL needs to have both televised and online presence globally to really market the sport. TV will provide fans like me an outlet to watch games and the Internet provides the option of giving fans the option of what games they will watch.
Further to the point, there seems to be some sort of light at the end of the tunnel on getting the debacle sorted out, though there are many more markets that need to be covered and Medge and AMI are running out of time.
Apologies for the rambling nature of the post, but I wanted to get the information up ASAP. I will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as and when they happen.
Let’s hope that we will all be able to watch games in time for the opening face off, whether it is on TV or online. Or who knows, both.