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Challenge

Due to the lightning-fast pace of hockey games, NHL broadcast and arena partners have historically struggled with ways to attract fans and help them follow plays in real-time. The puck is often incredibly hard to follow, and players frequently rotate on and off the ice, leaving fans frustrated as they had to intuit the puck’s location by carefully scrutinizing the players’ movements. The sport needed innovation in the form of tracking, broadcast and in-venue enhancements.

Solution

In 2007, SMT had designed NHL HITS (Hockey Information and Tracking System), the league’s official timing. scoring and administrative system that allows the NHL to centrally manage the more than 1,300 games played every season. So, in 2020, when the NHL decided to dive into the realm of real-time puck and player tracking (PPT) data, SMT rose to the challenge, ushering in a new era of fan engagement and technological innovation. SMT and the league have since explored groundbreaking ways to captivate hockey enthusiasts with analytics tools that query, visualize and interact with data and video.

OPTICS: Next, SMT introduced OPTICS, a packaged replay system for custom choreography of highlight packages and clips for downstream distribution. With OPTICS, automated, event-based choreography of graphical inserts based on scoreboard, tracking and official scoring data can be easily integrated into NHL broadcast partners’ production workflows.

IN-VENUE: Debuting at the 2022 NHL All-Star Game, in-venue OPTICS gives in-stadium fans the same data intelligence that viewers at home see. “L-Bar” and pointer graphics are displayed on scoreboards, in hospitality suites and throughout the concourse, revealing a layer of data-driven storytelling with real-time stats such as time on ice, faceoff probability, hardest shot, fastest skater, distance skated and more. During breaks in the action, the L-Bar provides sponsors and advertisers with opportunities to showcase their brands and messages.

SMT SPRITES: SMT’s SPRITES app debuted in 2022 on the NHL’s Third Period Live Show, streamed on YouTube during the third period of NHL finals games. The app, designed by SMT’s Creative Studio, enables viewers to see a real-time graphical presentation of the action on the ice, incorporating SMT’s L-Bar, with built-in puck- and player-tracking data that includes puck and player speeds, time of possession, time on ice, and other data points that show hosts rely on for in-game analysis.

ON-ICE SHOT CHART: An extension of the SPRITES app, SMT’s newest activation for the 2022/23 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs was the in-arena, on-ice Shot Chart. Projected onto the ice, this activation is based on tracking data that produces statistics like top speeds, total distance and face-off probabilities.

RAZOR: RAZOR is SMT’s market-leading analytics tool that allows coaches, analysts, and scouts to query, visualize, and interact with both data and video. RAZOR tracks over 250 metrics on all facets of the game, enabling a level of granularity and analysis never before seen in ice hockey.

OPERATIONS: SMT supports a total of 1,312 games in regular season games with up to 105 additional Stanley Cup Playoff games and Stanley Cup Finals for a potential total of 1,417 games per season across two countries, with up to 16 games per day along with regular season games in Europe.

REMOTE STUDIOS: SMT’s ROOSTER (Remote Optics Operator Staffing & Technology for Eliminating Risk) production studios provide each NHL broadcast partner with an enhanced feed with live data and tracking. ROOSTER workflows allow the graphics coordinator and operators in remote studios to communicate in real-time with production teams around the world.

Results

As a trusted partner of the National Hockey League (NHL) since 2007, SMT recognized the need for a comprehensive, end-to-end, data and graphics architecture to help the league take its next great leap into fan engagement. SMT created the puck-and-player (PPT) data architecture and solution suite to meet the needs of NHL partners, introducing a revolutionary advancement in the hockey world that brought an abundance of data to the forefront of player and game analysis.

PPT continues to break new ground in how tracking data can be used to present the game to fans. From AI-based data-visualization platforms that re-create the action on the ice in real time for alternative presentations to increased viewership and sell-out audiences, the applications are ever-evolving.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Gary Bettman

Gary Bettman

NHL Commissioner