The NHL on ESPN presents a rare treat tonight with all 32 NHL teams in action, led by ESPN’s exclusive tripleheader beginning at 6 ET on ESPN and ESPN+. An additional 13 games are available on NHL Power Play on ESPN+ – with 15-minute staggered start times – resulting in continuous action throughout the night.
With every team in action, ESPN will debut NHL Frozen Frenzy, a whip-around, live look-in studio show hosted by John Buccigross and Kevin Weekes, and showcasing the best plays, hits, goals and moments of the night.
The unique Frenzy presentation starts at 7 p.m. exclusively on ESPN+ before switching to ESPN2 from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Front Row asked Eric Loh, senior manager, Programming & Acquisitions, about the inside details of ESPN’s NHL Frozen Frenzy.
How did the idea of a NHL Frozen Frenzy come to fruition?
This was something that came to mind last season as we were thinking of ways to innovate our scheduling process and create some buzz after our traditional Opening Night plan. . . . I pitched the NHL on this concept by making all 16 games available on ESPN+ throughout the night and for us to produce a studio show dedicated to covering the key moments to create a one-stop-shop for the hockey fan, hoping to drive subscription subscriptions for ESPN+.
What is involved in creating a 16-game slate, including coordinating 15-minute staggered start times?
It’s a coordinated effort between the NHL, the teams, and ESPN. This annual scheduling process began in January, where we worked with the league to identify a date that would work for this made-for-TV event. The league was able to find arena availability to ensure that 16 games could be played in primetime across the time zones. . . . The staggered starts for the outer market Power Play games for ESPN+ were figured out afterward directly between the NHL and their respective franchises.
Finally, to make this all work, we are making every game available on ESPN+ throughout the night. The ESPN+/ESPN2 NHL Frozen Frenzy whip-around show will act as the navigator for the fan who just wants to see the goals, power plays, hits and saves of the night.
The mania that happens on NFL Sundays with “NFL RedZone” is something that is universally embraced . . . Why not bring that same mindset to hockey on an otherwise traditional Tuesday night in the NHL? This is an ideal spot on the sports calendar where hockey fans can rally around the ESPN platforms. – Eric Loh on ESPN’s NHL Frozen Frenzy concept
Has this ever been done before in hockey?
There have been instances where there have been 16 games scheduled on the same day previously; however, they have typically all been on a weekend. This is an extremely rare occurrence where it’s happening on a weeknight, and it’s tailored to a hockey fan at home to watch nonstop hockey action with staggered starts from 6–11 p.m. ET.
Why is the NHL Frozen Frenzy special to a true hockey fan?
The mania that happens on NFL Sundays with “NFL RedZone” is something that is universally embraced . . . Why not bring that same mindset to hockey on an otherwise traditional Tuesday night in the NHL? This is an ideal spot on the sports calendar where hockey fans can rally around the ESPN platforms.
How has ESPN Programming been working with ESPN Production to make this a reality?
To the [ESPN] NHL Production team’s credit, when we approached them with this concept, they embraced the idea from the beginning. We worked collaboratively over the summer to get everything into place to make this become a reality. There’s a ton of planning that goes into something like this. Even when we only do a more traditional “doubleheader,” it’s a big night for us, but to have a tripleheader on ESPN and a 5-1/2-hour whip-around studio show on ESPN+ and ESPN2, it’s an all hands on deck situation and I’m confident that the team will do a great job.