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NHL strikes deal for Twitter live look-ins during playoffs

Game action between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues, last year's Stanley Cup finalists, prior to the suspension of the 2019-20 season due to Covid-19. Both teams will be part of the league's resumed season that will include live video look-ins on Twitter. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The National Hockey League and digital partner Disney Streaming Services have struck a partnership with Twitter to deliver live video look-ins of the upcoming league playoffs to the social media platform. 

Starting August 1 and continuing throughout the NHL playoffs, two games per week will featured with two-minute live look-ins on Twitter, helping to expand the audience reach for the retooled tournament, build overall awareness of the competition restart, and improve viewership tune-in with the league’s broadcast partners including NBC Sports, regional sports networks, and the NHL Network. 

Fans will be invited to vote on which games they want to see on the live look-ins through the league’s @NHL Twitter handle.

The project is being led in part by Disney Streaming Services, which operates the NHL’s digital business including the official league mobile app and out-of-market video package. The company, also the back end for the ESPN+ and Disney+ streaming services, is the former BAMTech that was originally created by Major League Baseball.

“Everything our fans do shows us they want to have deeper connections with the league and our teams, and this exciting partnership with Twitter and Disney Streaming Services – especially during this unprecedented time of social distancing – provides the perfect platform to facilitate fan interaction and conversation, as well as drive broadcast tune-in,” said Heidi Browning, NHL senior executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

During the initial stages of the NHL’s playoff tournament, the live look-in windows for the games on Twitter will be the first two minutes of first and third periods of chosen games. During the latter playoff rounds, the windows will shift to the first two minutes of the first period and the last two minutes of the third period.

Twitter during the NHL postseason will also conduct more conventional activities such as deploying video highlights and featuring top tweets from hockey personalities and content partners.

“The virtual fan experience has taken on a new meaning this year and we are excited to be partnering with Twitter and the NHL to launch these new interactive experiences for hockey fans during these unprecedented times,” said Barry Tishgart, senior vice president and general manager of hockey for Disney Streaming Services. “The games are back and the power is in the hands of the fans to vote and determine the action they want to see.”

NBC Sports, a key NHL rightsholder in the US, intends to use the upcoming playoffs and the lack of attending fans in the league’s playoff hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton to advance television coverage of ice hockey.