The National Hockey League kicked off the start of the Stanley Cup Finals last night with round two of its NHL FanCam. Originally run during the 2012 NHL All-Star Game, the league has brought the 360-degree HD gigapixel photo offering back for games one and three of the Stanley Cup. NHL also plans to extend availability of an iPad mobile app sponsored by Molson Canadian to create more interactivity with the Stanley Cup viewers at home.
The arena-spanning FanCam image – sponsored by TicketMaster – captured fans cheering in the stands at last night’s game and should be available for viewing online sometime tonight. In the first bout, the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in overtime.
The image also features a Hunt for the Cup challenge, allowing fans to search the stands for a hidden image of the Stanley Cup in order to receive a chance to attend the 2013 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, home of the University of Michigan’s Wolverines. Fans average a total of six minutes going through the image, according to the NHL.
After “tagging” family or friends, fans can share the image through email, Twitter, and Facebook. This new approach allows the NHL to continue to strengthen its involvement with social media networks and create a more social experience for not only the fans in attendance but the fans at home. Fans attending this year’s NHL All-Star Game also are featured in a FanCam still available online.
By launching a mobile app called the Molson Canadian NHL Preplay for smartphones, the league aims to become more interactive with the fans at home. The predictive gaming app, already available on Apple iPad, lets fans play along with the live NHL game they are watching. Smartphone versions will be launched prior to game two of the Stanley Cup Finals, to be held June 2. Would-be NHL analysts can earn points for correct predictions and challenge friends to compete for trophies.
Pre Play Sports will provide a live data feed to the viewer’s phone as they watch the game. The average amount of time spent on the iPad version of the app is over 30 minutes throughout the course of a full 60-minute hockey game, according to Chris Golier, VP of mobile marketing and strategy for the NHL.
“The app is looking to create a marriage of broadcast and mobile,” said Golier.
The uncovering of the FanCam and the Preplay app at the Stanley Cup allows the league to test the waters for new and innovative digital media ideas. Expect the NHL to be watching the success of these particular pieces and considering to extend them into next season.