ESPN has found a hit with alternative, simultaneous broadcasts of live sports events, and the Disney-owned channel is maximizing that strategy for the NHL regular season.
ESPN announced today that starting in the 2022 season, it will be offering “Star Watch” alternate broadcasts of games throughout the year airing on streaming service ESPN+. Star Watch broadcasts will feature specific players on isolated camera feeds, accompanied by stats specific to that player.
The Star Watch NHL streams differ from other ESPN alternate streams, like the ManningCast, in that they don’t feature big hockey names or movie stars coming on to discuss the games, but are more statistic-oriented and offer fans a view of the action that they wouldn’t get in a traditional telecast.
Star Watch alternate broadcasts scheduled for the early season include the Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers on Friday, Oct. 21; Colorado Avalanche at New York Rangers on Tuesday, Oct. 25, and Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, Nov. 1. The individual players that will be highlighted will be determined once each team makes their roster availability public.
While ESPN had been doing it for major sporting events for years, the concept of airing an alternative broadcast of sports events really took off during the 2021 NFL season when the worldwide leader in sports introduced the “ManningCast,” in which Super Bowl-winning brothers Peyton and Eli Manning comment on “Monday Night Football” games with their unique analysis and insights while also bringing special guests on to talk about the action on the field.
The ESPN family of networks has begun rolling out these types of telecasts for other sports as well, including golf, UFC, and more recently, college football with new “College GameDay” panelist Pat McAfee.
The Star Wath feed isn’t the only change coming to ESPN’s NHL coverage for the 2022-23 season. For select games, ESPN and ABC will have individual players “wired” with microphones during the games in order to offer fans a more immersive experience, giving them access to all the sights and sounds of the game from ice level.
ESPN is also continuing to develop its “Rush Coverage,” which gives fans a more expanded ice-level view. Rush Coverage captures the natural sounds of the on-ice action without commentary at certain points in the game, giving audiences the chance to tune out the announcers and hear the pure sounds of the game. ESPN first introduced this coverage style during the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals.
The announcement of expanded NHL coverage from ESPN comes close on the heels of their launch of NHL Power Play on ESPN+. Power Play will feature more than 1,050 out-of-market games this season, and is a rebranding of NHL.TV, which became a part of ESPN+ last year.
The NHL regular season is just beginning to ramp up, and ESPN wants to make sure you’re closer to the action than ever before in 2022.
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You will get a daily out-of-market game from MLB, and every out-of-market NHL with NHL Power Play (previously NHL.TV). For NFL Fans, they have an exclusive NFL game, and simulcast select Monday Football games.
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