If you've ever used NHL GameCenter, you know the pain.
It's not a horrible product, but the 90 second delay and some of the other functional issues that plague it can be a real pain in the ass. Baseball's version of the online streaming platform, MLB.tv, is not without similar issues, but if you've used both platforms you know how vastly better MLB fans have it.
And it's with that context that we celebrate this news, which will be officially announced in an announcement on Tuesday:
Per a source, MLB's Baseball Advanced Media will take over NHL's web ops, apps, streaming video, etc. in 2016. Announcement tomorrow.— DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) August 3, 2015
MLB Advanced Media is a massive company. Aside from just handling the operations of MLB.com, their
32 30 team websites, the MLB At Bat app, MLB.tv, MiLB.com, and all of the streaming video across MLB platforms, they also provide the technology that runs WatchESPN, HBO Now (not to be confused with HBO Go), WWE Network and March Madness On Demand, among others. All are top notch.
What does this mean for NHL Network?
There's been some speculation that MLBAM will take over NHL Network in the United States as well, but that does not seem correct. MLBAM does not do television, and they do not even operate MLB Network -- which is owned in part by DirecTV, NBCUniversal, Time Warner Cable and others.
This will be a key question during the announcement on Tuesday -- what will become of the NHL Network following this deal? It's a terrible product right now, with little-to-no original programming and next-to-no reason to ever tune in. Hopefully changes are coming, whether that's related to this news or not.
Will they clamp down on the sharing of NHL video online?
The NHL has always been one of the more progressive leagues when it comes to how fans share their content on the Internet. Go look on YouTube or Vine or the Twitter account of somebody like @myregularface and you'll find a ton of clips, highlights and GIFs of NHL games.
Technically it's all copyright infringement, but the league has always looked the other way because they understand that this stuff is what facilitates the conversation of their sport around the web. They understand that it's not necessarily where people are watching hockey that matters, but simply that people are watching.
MLBAM has been famously terrible when it comes to shutting down the sharing of their stuff on the Internet. Whether it's a clip uploaded to YouTube or a friggin' podcast that discussed the Cubs, MLBAM's reputation has been one that stops people from sharing baseball conversation on the web unless that conversation is controlled by MLB itself.
It stifles conversation about the sport, and frankly in the modern era it hurts the league's standing with a younger audience. While MLBAM has gotten better about this stuff in recent years, they're still stricter than any other league when it comes to these sorts of things, and there's still the fear that the NHL could go down this road with this new agreement.
I really hope the NHL does not follow MLB's lead, because the league has in fact been a leader themselves on this topic. But this is another major question following the news of this new relationship between the NHL and MLBAM.
What does this mean for the NHL's in-game technology?
MLB Gameday is an amazing product. It's been around for what feels like forever, providing live stats on a pitch-by-pitch basis from every MLB game. The NHL is experimenting with new in-game stats tracking, and in the coming years there will be major changes on that front.
MLBAM will likely have a big hand in that. While it's too early to speculate on exactly what might be coming down the pike, some of the player tracking and puck tracking technology could truly change how we understand the game -- just as pitch tracking and some of the stuff MLBAM has disseminated to the masses has changed how we watch baseball.
This won't change blackouts, right?
No, of course not. Keep on dreaming.