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NHL Pause Binge Dives Into The Archives to Give Hockey Fans a Welcome Escape in the Age of Coronavirus


NHL Pause Binge Dives Into The Archives to Give Hockey Fans a Welcome Escape in the Age of Coronavirus Cloud-based workflows help producers and editors work with large video files from their homes By Brandon Costa, Director of Digital

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 2:55 pm

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With North Americans deep into their third week of quarantine as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, many are looking for a welcome distraction from the stresses of the current times.

To help bring a sense of normalcy to their fans, the NHL has launched NHL Pause Binge, a campaign across, the league's YouTube channel, and its various social channels that curates a robust collection of some of the NHL's greater pieces of video content from its rich history.

Content, right now, is what people are yearning for and desiring and we really put a lot of effort into giving people a bit more of their fill of hockey, says Steve Mayer, chief content officer for the NHL. This has been quite an interesting time and we think we are putting out some pretty cool things and we'll continue to do so all the way through the pause. We're trying to provide people at home who are going through some really difficult times with joy and entertainment. We know they love the NHL and we're trying to give them something they will enjoy.

The chief goal of NHL Pause Binge is to put all of this treasured content under one roof and make it exceptionally easy for users to find and watch. The campaign spotlights a range of content, including features from NHL Original Productions (which includes the acclaimed series Road to the NHL Winter Classic, Behind the Glass, and NHL All Access ) as well as full-length classic games dating all the way back to the 1950s. and NHL's social team are also taking deep dives into the archive, releasing content plans designed to give fans happy memories to watch, but also activities and contests that they can actively participate in. For example, Greatest Moments of the NHL Season So Far features a tournament style bracket of the year's best moments for fans to watch and vote on.

The @Avalanche advance to the next round.

The Battle of Alberta resumes today! Who ya got, @cmcdavid97 s six-point night or @TKACHUKycheese_ s between-the-legs goal?


NHL (@NHL) March 31, 2020

According to Mayer, its been an important piece of the effort to remain sensitive to the current state of the world's struggles. In the immediate aftermath following the postponement of the season, the NHL content team wasn't overly aggressive in its video push, instead leaning more on retweeting and interacting with players and personalities who were reacting to the new environment. It wasn't until about March 23 where Mayer and his team really started to turn on the content spigot.

In the sports world, everything happened so immediately, says Mayer. That one night changed the sports world forever. So, we immediately set the group on the idea trail. One of the biggest messages from me was that we want to stay respectful. A lot of people are going through a lot right now, including our players and everyone on the team level, and we need to respect that. Let's just naturally let the first ten days pass.

In that time, in order to feed the NHL Pause Binge campaign, the operations team behind the NHL's content machine needed to lean heavily into what, fortunately, are some already existing cloud-based workflows. Fueled partially by the league office's move to its new headquarters at One Manhattan West in the growing Hudson Yards, the NHL has been undergoing a digital transformation. The league has been migrating many of its core IT services to the cloud and was already seeing (even prior to the coronavirus) a significant uptick in the internal adoption of services like file-sharing, editing collaboration tools, video conferencing, and task management software.

Naturally, all NHL staff are currently working remotely from their homes but, according to an NHL spokeperson, most of the systems that service the editorial groups were already securely accessible from outside the office. The real challenge was ensuring that all producers and editors were outfitted with the equipment and most importantly the Internet connectivity to handle this new archival-based workload.

When we recognized this was as serious as it is, one of the first things we said as a group was how do we remotely stay in business, says Mayer. I think we were super smart in trying to be ahead of that. We made it so that our producers and editors could access our internal servers to be able to not only take down games and highlights and be essentially be able to edit as if they were in our office. Our IT and studio operations department were just incredible in allowing [our team] access. The team has been unbelievable in terms of thinking ahead and getting our entire group ready to go. We're working around the clock. Honestly, we need to settle down with the new ideas because we are getting maxed out.

NHL IT assisted in upgrading the Internet download and upload speeds within the homes of its remote workforce. In addition, the league is leveraging its asset management system (Reach Engine by Levels Beyond), video file transfer system (Signiant Media Shuttle) and content file-sharing workflows (Box).
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