NEW YORK -- The NHL, along with programming partners NBC and CBC, announced Monday a seven-part series that will provide an all-access look into the game’s biggest stars leading up to this winter’s Stadium Series and 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Think along the lines of “24/7,” HBO’s wildly successful behind-the-scenes series leading up to the annual Winter Classic, only with a lot less swearing.
The series, named “NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other,” will air on NBCSN beginning Jan. 22. The documentary-driven format will focus on elite names such as Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Evgeni Malkin, Jonathan Toews and other members of the league’s best, offering a slightly different look from “24/7,” in which coaches were often focal points. It will be produced by former CBC exec Julie Bristow and Ross Greenburg, who was the executive producer of “24/7” while previously with HBO.
The NHL said the series will use the allure of the Olympics as a linchpin, and hopefully “create momentum into the playoffs” as the league tries to gain further exposure on the national level and increase revenues on that scale.
“It felt like that was the thing that was missing from the NHL’s arsenal,” said John Collins, the NHL’s chief operating officer. “There wasn't much of a national halo on the top of the business.”
Collins said the league now aims to grow the game’s revenue by a substantial amount with that national revenue.
“We want to grow now to create another billion dollar’s worth of national revenue,” Collins said. “We want to grow from what was a $3.2 billion business the last full year that we had, into more than a $4 billion dollar business.”
Collins admitted that the NHL has garnered criticism for diluting their signature event, but that the Stadium Series, which features games in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Vancouver, is about exposure and not so much revenue.
“To me, that’s not it,” Collins said. “It creates a revenue opportunity, but there’s also a huge expense.”
The Stadium Series and accompanying TV series is actually not expected to have as significant an impact on hockey-related revenue as many would think.
“It’s about exposure,” a source indicated to ESPN.com
Speaking of exposure, there were a couple of other interesting nuggets that emerged from Monday’s meeting with the media:
-- According to Collins, the NHL and NHLPA are in discussions about holding a World Cup, with 2015 looking like the “potential window.” When exactly would that be? Though the NHLPA is not opposed to the event being held during the season -- similar to the Olympics -- Collins indicated the event will be held in the offseason, meaning prior to the start of the 2015-16 season.
-- Collins also explained the recent decision to ditch the Premiere Games, as reported by ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun last week. Though the NHL and NHLPA both agree that gaining international exposure is key for the growth of the game, there remains some uncertainty on how best to execute that plan. Collins said the time crunch played a factor in the decision to shelve the games for 2014-15, but expressed an interest in collaborating on the endeavor in the future. The NHLPA would have liked to see this plan put into place and did not feel the timing was necessarily prohibitive, but it sounds as if the discussions are tabled for now.
-- Collins said that the NHL is “deep in conversation” for the Canadian television rights and that the league would ideally like to have those negotiations wrapped up “by the end of the year.”