The People Behind the Tech — Delivering Compelling Sports Content for Hockey Night in Canada

By in Avid Connect, Avid Customer Association, Broadcast, Graphics Solutions, Sports Production, Studio Production

Nothing drives ratings like live sports. In our 24/7 world, where we’re always plugged in and constantly moving from one viewing device to another, sport still has the power to trump video on demand and command huge audiences. The sports market is estimated to be worth $700bn and is growing more rapidly than global GDP.

In Canada, nothing drives ratings like hockey. And the competition isn’t just fierce on the ice. National and regional networks assiduously cover every shot, assist, block and deke for a nation obsessed with this fast-moving sport, which is more akin to a religion than a sporting pastime.

So when Rogers Media acquired the Hockey Night in Canada franchise, the production team knew they had to create something special for what truly is a national institution. Generations of Canadians grew up listening to Hockey Night on the radio and decades later the Saturday night tradition continues intact, on high-definition television. Rogers wanted to engage their audience in new ways, and to innovate by using augmented reality, virtual sets, and video walls to wow viewers, while at the same time giving them the flexibility to constantly change the look and feel of the broadcast to keep the content fresh.

Heading up the project was Director of Creative Technology Dwayne Brown. From live events and concerts, to stadium and arena entertainment systems, to broadcast studios and on-air graphics, Dwayne has had the opportunity to work with some iconic brands over the years, including the NHL, NBA, and Major League Soccer.

For the 2014-15 season, under Dwayne’s stewardship, Rogers Media built a state-of-the-art new Hockey Central studio in Toronto, Canada. It’s gigantic. It covers over 10,000 square feet and is one of the most sophisticated studios ever created for a television production. Towering over the studio is a massive 41 x 11 foot high-resolution LED videowall, just one of the many and varied display surfaces controlled and managed by Avid’s Maestro | TD Control solution.

At Avid Connect 2018, in his presentation Delivering Compelling Sports Content, Dwayne will be sharing with attendees how he and his team addressed the high-pressure, high-risk challenge of delivering a viewing experience that in many ways reflects the hopes and dreams of a nation.

As Dwayne puts it: “It’s not about the tech, it’s about the people using the tech” – the team had to come up with the ideas, the technology is just an enabler. For example, Hockey Night in Canada features an augmented reality interactive device call The Puck Wall. When a team’s puck is placed in the slot it triggers that team’s statistics on a large touchscreen monitor. Dwayne describes it as a 70” display with “sort of a cup holder” mounted at the bottom. The Plexiglas pucks are fitted with unique RFID tags which can be read by Maestro | TD Control to trigger content.

True to Dwayne’s mantra, Rogers’ imaginative production team came up with a whole host of ways of “using the tech,” but I’m not going give away all of Dwayne’s insights in this blog – you’ll have to check out his session at Avid Connect ????. Don’t miss the chance to learn, from and be inspired by, the community at the forefront of media innovation. Book your place at Avid Connect before the end of March for just $495 USD for the entire event.

Avid Connect 2018

Join industry leaders as they come together to experience the cutting-edge and prepare for the year ahead. Be there to strengthen your skills, network with collaborators and to try new tools and technologies.

April 6 – 8 │ Wynn Las Vegas

As Director of Broadcast and Media Solutions Marketing, I am responsible for outbound messaging for all Avid products focused on broadcast news, sports, and entertainment.