WHL LIVE, a new online television service presented by the Western Hockey League and IPTV partner NeuLion, is providing live game coverage of the 2010-2011 WHL season, using a new video console that includes support for HDTV.
The exclusive service is the only way fans can watch live WHL games online, but it is not the only media platform providing WHL content. Multiple platforms are being used to expand the reach of the Western Hockey League, its teams and players to a global audience, including a new smartphone application.
But it's WHL LIVE, an IPTV service powered by NeuLion technology, that's providing coverage of all 22 teams in the WHL, and airing nearly 800 games throughout the regular season, now in its first week.
WHL LIVE gives fans access to live and archived televised games, as well as radio, live chat, video-on-demand and highlights. The modernized video console grants hockey fans an opportunity to tune into their favorite team with a simple Internet connection and watch the action anywhere at any time. New this year, WHL LIVE features an updated look and feel, including a game status indicator, and offers integrated team level branding and HD support.
The NeuLion IPTV Platform encodes, delivers, stores and manages an unlimited range of multimedia content and the Operational Support System (OSS) maintains all billing and customer support services. Content partners are responsible for content aggregation and the sales and marketing for the individual IPTV service. Customer/partner content can be viewed by way of the Internet on PCs and mobile devices and on the television through the company's IPTV set top box.
Cory Flett, the WHL's director of communications, noted in an e-mail that NeuLion had, during the last hockey season, acquired the previous WHL Internet streaming partner, INSINC, following four years of partnership with the league, essentially making this the first season NeuLion has officially carried WHL games.
All 792 WHL games are broadcast on the radio by the home and visiting teams.
Shaw TV, Flett explained, airs 30 regular season games each year, plus a full series in each of the four rounds of the playoffs. So on average including playoffs Shaw broadcasts over 50 WHL games on their full network and on Shaw Direct, its satellite TV service. Shaw produces these games.
Rogers Sportsnet broadcasts between six and eight WHL games a season. Rogers Sportsnet produces its own games.
And FSN Northwest broadcasts 10 WHL games to its full network in the U.S. Pacific Northwest each season as well. The WHL produces the games that appear on FSN Northwest.
And, in another attempt to increase access to WHL content, a new iPhone App has been developed that provides features a searchable schedule that allows fans to filter games by teams, dates and even TV/Radio channels. The WHLive Hockey app also features team & player rankings; it was developed by Kuawa Road, and is available for download.
"WHL LIVE allows our WHL fans around the world to follow their favorite WHL team throughout the entire season," commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison, "Our partnership with NeuLion will allow us to continue to deliver the highest quality internet broadcast service to our loyal fans."
Individual WHL games, multi-game packages, archived games as well as all 2011 WHL Playoff games and the race for the Ed Chynoweth Cup will also be available through WHL LIVE.
The Western Hockey League (WHL) is the largest major junior hockey league in the world today with 22 member Clubs throughout Western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest, drawing over four million spectators each season to regular season and playoff. The WHL is a member of the Canadian Hockey League (together with the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) which consists of 60 member clubs from coast to coast in Canada and the northern United States.
NeuLion works with content partners from its offices in Toronto, New York and Florida.