NHL considers changes to digital ad boards after fan criticisms

Greg WyshynskiESPNSep 13, 2023, 07:00 PM ET5 Minute Read

The NHL is considering changes to its digitally enhanced dasherboards (DED) after fan criticisms during their debut season.

DED technology allows for the digital replacement of camera-visible arena ads on local, national and international broadcasts. The digital boards allow broadcasts to constantly change which advertisers appear. Ads are sold like commercials, with brands buying 30-second increments, based on the game clock.

The digital ads faced criticism from fans during the first year for everything from technical glitches to disruptive artificiality to the way some moving advertisements detracted from ongoing play.

While the NHL is contemplating some of those critiques, the league said it believes most viewers have grown comfortable with the digital ad boards. The NHL said it has heard feedback that the technology actually makes hockey easier to watch on television.

“It was certainly the vocal minority. There’s plenty of folks that think it’s a much better viewing experience to watch the game,” said Keith Wachtel, the NHL’s chief business officer and executive vice president of global partnerships.

“The overwhelming sentiment was that the cleanliness of the boards is less jarring for the viewership. That it blends in more. Other than when [the ads] might change where people notice it, the prevailing thought is that they’re kind of in the background,” he said.

Wachtel confirmed that the NHL made two changes to the technology during the 2022-23 season: tweaking the brightness of the ads and applying some motion-blurring to them so they would better blend in during play.

He said the system uses artificial intelligence rendering to improve the look of the ads from game to game.

“We were able to do some things that we thought would enhance the viewing of the game. We still think that the viewing of the broadcast with DED is significantly better than the old static [ads] way,” Wachtel said. “We continue to tweak it so that we make sure the viewing experience is as optimal as we can make it.”

One of those tweaks might involve ads that include moving elements, which some fans found disorienting.

“Yes, there is the occasional funny meme of the car going one way and the player skating another way. Very infrequent, when you look at the totality of how many ads are running. We limit [the movement] to a few seconds,” Wachtel said. “What we are doing, though, is continuing to look at what the motion is. At this point, we’re not making any big changes, but we are looking at ways to perhaps tweak it — to look at where and how these ads appear versus where the players and the puck might be at that moment on the ice.”

The NHL is less concerned with fans who claim that the digital boards “swallow up” the puck.

“The puck getting lost really doesn’t happen. I mean, you’re talking about 2,000-plus games and there can always be an issue with any technology, but that was really infrequent,” Wachtel said….

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Read More: NHL considers changes to digital ad boards after fan criticisms 2023-09-13 23:00:00

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