Raptor Writings: Hold the (on)line – Hockey; on the internet and on TV

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, I mentioned recently that I, along with fellow Pucks Across the Pond contributor Chris Bower will be writing articles for the programme of  ENL 2 North team Lancashire Raptors.  Luckily I’ve been given a bit of a remit to write what I want which is cool.  As a few people said they wanted to read it, I’ll be posting them under the title of Raptor Writings after they’ve been published at Raptors games.  You can find more about the Raptors at http://blackburnjuniorhawks.org/

With the NHL tv mess rumbling on, I focussed on that for this one. Hope you enjoy.


The internet; so much part of our culture now that we barely think about it. In your pocket right now, your mobile phone is likely able in seconds to load up your twitter or some website in 5 seconds that back in 2000 would have taken your Windows 2000 powered PC the better part of a couple of minutes. In the time it takes you to read this article you could buy train tickets to the next Raptors away game, post on the club’s Facebook page and still have time to upload a photo. Our lives have changed beyond comparison.


The internet has also revolutionised the sport of ice hockey as we know it. My writing in this match night programme is entirely thanks to my involvement in internet based hockey writing. Video highlights are now the norm online at league websites the world over so you can instantly catch up on the latest goings on.

Bored on a Friday night with nothing to do? You can go to Laola1TV and they stream a live game from the Austrian league in HD legally for free on your computer.

Then there’s the blog scene! NHL hockey now has more blogs than you can shake a stick at. General league news, rumours sites, even most individual teams have a thriving blog scene. That has extended to British hockey where the fans not only follow their teams but unofficially are promoting the teams to some extent as well. British hockey blogs are providing interviews, live text coverage from games and, in the case of Sheffield Steelers blog Steel Night Live, audio commentary from Steelers home games! A scene that was next to non-existent 5 years ago is booming. (Some are of course better than others he says plugging shamelessly).


However one of the really big stories in the hockey world this off season in Britain has been the lack of a television deal for fans to watch NHL hockey in Europe.


Strange isn’t it? All these great technological developments that mean we can watch whatever we want online and yet all this uproar because we can’t get hockey on TV. I think it’s because an old adage still rings true; the more things change, the more they stay the same.


TV still remains the medium that sports fans flock to. TV is still that massively accessible medium for people to connect to any sport, hockey included. NHL fans could buy NHL Gamecentre Live for $159 a season and watch it all online right now but watching hockey around a computer screen isn’t the same. You can’t sit back with your buddies and a few beers gathered around a Macbook Pro.


The #NHLtvdeal4Europe campaign has been gathering pace but as of writing this, no deal exists. Ultimately hockey fans want to be like pretty much every other sports fan; they want to sit back on the sofa with their loved ones and watch the game but without some sort of resolution between Medge Consulting who own the rights and broadcasters, NHL fans have to shell out for GameCentre Live or use illegal streams online. Ultimately despite all the advances that the internet has brought to the sport of ice hockey, without a TV deal for the highest level across Europe it is the sport that will end up losing out in the end.


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