Watching hockey live at the venue is probably the best way to enjoy being a spectator of the game. Conversely, if you’re a football fan, it’s likely that you’ll enjoy seeing your favourite team pound a win more if you watch it on television from the comfort of your own home.
It’s pretty difficult to keep track of that tiny little black disc as it whirls around the ice at the speeds that it can sometimes reach when you’re watching hockey and when you’re watching it on TV, regardless of whether your screen is 60 inches and in the highest definition available, that puck is going to fly off screen and you’ll miss some of the true action. Additionally, the game is not played in the more formal paced down by down action that you’ll see in football. You need to be able to anticipate the moves of the players when you’re watching hockey as they can fly from one end of the ice to the other in seconds and as a camera follows the puck, you don’t know what else is happening on the ice to be able to predict the potential next move. The players move at lightning speed, shots are hard and fast and passing can be slick and in any direction.
With football, the ball is the primary focus of attention and while the play can happen quickly, the stop and start of the game and pauses between plays, enables multiple replays that can be the difference to understanding how the game is moving forward or not. Spectators at home are treated to replays, slow motion action and game analysis of every play as it occurs. The speed at which the ball lofts through the air makes it possible for a camera to easily pursue it and you can see as much as possible of what is happening.
Not everyone, however, can attend a game in live action due to proximity, costs or scheduling and this impacts the viewership of hockey fans more so than it does with football. That’s why this year’s stadium series of hockey and the Winter Classics games are really building a wider and more dedicated spectator following to the game.
For one thing, in the outdoor games, bad weather only makes the game more exciting to watch from home – the nostalgic sense of snow falling and fans bundled together make you happy that you’re seated on your cozy sofa with the fireplace blazing. As well, it slows the play down a bit letting you track all of the action on ice. The overhead shots of the outdoor game also make the play easier to follow and are reminiscent of the game everyone grew up with – potentially on ponds or outdoor rinks.
The start of this tradition brings actual clubs together to play real professional hockey and with the use of stadiums, as opposed to multi-billion dollar arenas that are only housed in the cities that host professional hockey, you’re left with the sense that a game could actually come to your town someday. Any city with a stadium could host it.
This is a new style of old style game that the NHL is definitely getting right for the fans.