HockeyTech Launches HockeyTV—the Future of Viewing Ice Hockey.
HockeyTV powered by HockeyTech launched just in time last week for the 2016 hockey season thanks to Stu Siegel, founder and CEO of both companies, the former owner of the Florida Panthers, and a technology entrepreneur. More than 20,000 live amateur hockey games will stream this season on HockeyTV and will be used by scouts, NHL teams, and family members hoping to keep up with the loved ones’ as they play in high-level juniors. The sports tech company will also provide a cloud based digital library with an excess of 100,000 games available on demand and accessible to subscribers online. The Sports Techie community blog chatted with Siegel about his business background, love of hockey as a player, executive and fan, and the new HockeyTV platform developed for users to watch the sport, manage team and player film, and access archived footage, whenever they want, wherever they are, and on whatever device they choose. This exciting news comes on the heels of the series win by Canada over Europe to capture the 2016 World Cup of Hockey championship continuing a decade of excellence since their last loss to USA in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. If you aspire to be a professional, work in the industry or want a rich fan experience like no other on the market, HockeyTV is for you.
HockeyTech was founded in 2013 and is now the undisputed global leader of hockey-related technologies, video, analytics, information services, and content-delivery networks for premier amateur and professional leagues, as well national governing bodies. They just added HockeyTV to their exciting list of niche brands, some operational since 1998, that include, FastHockey, RinkNet, ISS Hockey, LeagueStat, and NEXT Testing. Four of the five startup founders are still with HockeyTech.
Siegel’s ability to grow HockeyTech stepped up to another level in the elite hockey world with the acquisition last year of FASTHockey.com creating the infrastructure and combined services behind his new vision for HockeyTV online hockey. The real winner behind the execution of his business plan is the sport itself as it updates to modern times through information and analytics.
“With HockeyTV, we’ve released the definitive destination to view ice hockey below the NHL level,” said Siegel. “While today we webcast tens of thousands of amateur games each season, we hope to bring our viewers North American and European professional hockey in the near future.”
Siegel is not only addressing the explosion of mobile devices and apps in North America with his newest venture, he is bundling hundreds of elite amateur leagues and tournaments now streaming from the ice rink directly to smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and OTT devices such as AppleTV and Roku, as well as smart TVs, together with 10-years worth of archived footage. League commissioners and team management personnel are sure to reap the benefits of HockeyTV responsive web tech and personalized experience as are consumers.
HockeyTV includes significant new features and benefits for leagues, teams and fans alike:
- A new, modern interface that radically simplifies navigation to both live games and the HockeyTV on-demand library from laptops, desktops or mobile devices;
- Easy in-game navigation, with fully-functional DVR-like controls for rewind, fast forward and more;
- Game roster integration, providing easy access to player information while viewing the action;
- For teams and league personnel, HockeyTV is integrated with HockeyTech’s industry-leading scouting and operations technologies.
“With HockeyTV, the league relationships, video assets and industry-leading technologies and information resources are in place to radically change how people watch hockey,” said Marc Ruskin, president of HockeyTech. “We will continuously upgrade and enhance the viewing experience with a continuous stream of amazing new features.”
Sports Techie Q&A With HockeyTV/HockeyTech Founder and CEO, Stu Siegel
- Is HockeyTV sponsor friendly and how so?
HockeyTV supports its broadcast partners and their efforts to bring their sponsors into the broadcasts. In our unique cloud-based overlay system, we have developed a specific on screen graphic for sponsor imagery. We continue to enhance our broadcast graphics to meet our partners needs.
- Is HockeyTV involved with combines, and are combines a trend he sees in hockey’s future?
HockeyTV will continue to add exciting content to our lineup. Though most of our content is live and on-demand game action, we often carry special events. We are always evaluating new content and should our partners want to showcase their combines, we are happy to support them.
- Is there any interest in fantasy hockey by HockeyTV?
Not at this time, no.
- What is the HockeyTV emphasis on women?
As I said earlier, in our efforts to work closely with our broadcast partners and subscribers, we will stream the content that is of interest to audiences. That said, HockeyTV has streamed international women’s competitions for USA Hockey and Hockey Canada.
- Is $24.99 a month the lowest price for fans, or will that come down in price, and is that price in US or Canadian dollars?
Pricing is different based on geography, but in the U.S. is US$24.99/month.
HockeyTech Core Competencies
HockeyTech’s core is the Hockey Player Information and Scouting System. It is the world’s largest private data repository on hockey player, team, and league information. HockeyTech client teams, leagues and organizations rely upon their cloud-based system to manage vital confidential player and prospect information in a secure environment.
1. League and Team Operations
RinkNet is the world leader in providing hockey scouting and player information systems. RinkNet provides powerful technology solutions to increase the efficiency and productivity of hockey organizations.
2. Scoring, Stats and Sites
Through its LeagueStat Service, HockeyTech provides live scoring, real-time stats, reporting, mobile apps and administration. This secure service has been serving the premier hockey market for over a decade in real-time.
3. Streaming and Syndication
FASTHockey, a service of HockeyTech, provides fans live and on-demand streaming, game film breakdown, and digital syndication. Partners include NGB’s, Conferences, Leagues, Teams, and Events across North America.
4. Player Testing
HockeyTech Testing brings world class technology to the hockey world with scientifically-based on-ice and off-ice testing services. Our methodology uses systems to precisely assess, analyze and compare athletes.
5. Tracking and Analytics
HockeyTech Analytics is our new proprietary in-arena system that provides real-time data on player/puck movement for enhanced statistics and player development. In the R&D stage this is game changing technology.
Technology enables precise tracking of player and puck position in real time, automating the computation of game analytics and statistics never before available in the sport of hockey.
HockeyTech Introduces Groundbreaking Analytics System
ISS Hockey (International Scouting Services) is the world’s leading independent scouting and information provider on hockey prospects. Founded in 2002, ISS scouts evaluate, analyze and rank players worldwide.
HockeyTech clients include all NHL teams, American Hockey League (AHL), ECHL, Hockey Canada, USA Hockey, the CHL, (OMJHL, OHL and WHL, and all teams, USHL, NCAA Hockey Teams, CIS, Minor Pro and European Pro teams, Tier II Junior Teams and leagues, Hockey Player Agencies, Media such as Rogers Sportsnet, TSN, THN, Yahoo!, HockeyNow, HockeyFuture, Rick Operators Canlan Ice Sports, Ringette, Canada, and more.
A long-term deal was signed in September with the North American Hockey League (NAHL) to deploy HockeyTech’s comprehensive suite of integrated technologies. The NAHL and its affiliated leagues (NAPHL and NA3HL) are now positioned to further implement proprietary HockeyTech software and data services suite enabling immersive live scoring, statistics, websites, mobile apps, player scouting, player management, player testing, video services, and game streaming.
Stu is a born and breed New Yorker, and is now a Floridian with Boston and Canadian associations. He labeled himself a, “tech and info guy.”
Siegel is the CEO/Founder of Siegel Enterprises and has worn many hats over his impressive career of launching, acquiring, merging, and selling successful businesses, including three multi-million dollar companies – eNeighborhoods, FreeCreditReport.com and Getko Group.
This financial windfall allowed him to form the Siegel Family Foundation endowment in order to satisfy his philanthropic needs. The Siegel family has helped to champion a variety of health, education, community, and arts, initiatives. Stu serves on multiple non-profit boards, including the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation, Wharton Sports Business, and Penn Hockey Alumni. Siegel is a cum laude graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, where he played on the their college hockey team all four years.
In 2008, his career path led him to ownership, and eventually he became the Florida Panthers, CEO and Managing Partner, of the NHL organization. In 2012, he sold his shares in the company and decided to help the sport in other ways as an entrepreneur, primarily through HockeyTech.
Sports Techie, Siegel says he was fortunate in being able obtain the HockeyTV domain name and brand. He considers it, “A little TV network or the EPSN for hockey, a destination for hockey webcasting.”
His goal is to create the definitive place on the Internet to watch hockey on whatever device you are on. In the old days, explained Stu, “You had to design one tech for each device.”
HockeyTech has already built a massive fan base in the process of re-branding their acquisitions. Their expertise, production capabilities that come with being a trusted provider, and the sheer volume of online productions they do every year, made it logical for the company to create easy ways for leagues and tournaments to offer premium streaming, websites, analytics, and more, while located often times in dilapidated rinks and non WiFi friendly facilities.
A key HockeyTV feature he emphasized was the video screen and how it is surrounded by info and data. He also spoke about their official scoring and stats system for minor pro leagues, where goals and assists are automatically inputted in system and can then be sent to the media, if needed.
Siegel also promoted their webcast and video on demand. He further stated, “The future is OTT as an alternative to cable companies. The software world is replacing the hardware world. Interacting with TV is leading edge. The future is allowing viewers to watch the way they want to watch, with zoom, multiple cameras and angles, and player tracking.”
Stu shared the sport of hockey history with gathering data and how it has not improved much over time since he tried to upgrade the Panthers from one of the worst franchises when it came to implementing sports tech, to today’s modern environment. The NHL mainly uses manual input to collect stats. Yet, hockey is so fast, changes happen on the fly, and the positions of players and the puck are constantly moving around the rink, making the system antiquated. He truly wants to see what you cannot see on video, in a cost-effective manner.
One geographic area that has become a hotbed of innovation is Waterloo, Ontario, the headquarters of HockeyTech, Canada. This is also the home of Blackberry. As a result, it has become the Silicon Valley of Canada. There are many smart people in the city an hour west of Toronto. Hundreds of startups have spawned there, many in collaboration with the University of Waterloo, the MIT of Canada and a leading stats school. HockeyTech built a tracking system together with the college, using their rink and testing it with university’s team.
HockeyTech is developing a player and puck tracking system chip that can track in real-time using GPS and precise measurements. It gathers data 20 times a minute for players and 50 times per minute on the puck. The end result is unique data is collected for better fan engagement opportunities and improved analytics purposes.
The University of Michigan is where the US National team trains, practices and plays. HockeyTech is a provider of services for this NGB effort.
I asked about an exit strategy. Media entities such as ESPN, NBC Sports and Fox Sports have an abundance of cash reserves and cannot sit on it, they need to spend and often overspend for properties exactly like HockeyTech. Understanding that Stu has done well with his investments in the past, I also wanted to know if HockeyTech was a hobby since he loves the sport and still plays at the ripe old age of 53, or was it an investment that is poised for a substantial ROI if bought out. He explained, “This is a mental and financial commitment. I want to bring something to the hockey world, based on analytics. This was not built with an exit strategy, there are no outside investors. I want to grow it.”
I also told him about my recent blog about BAMTech and their investment in Silver Chalice after they received the same type of capital and infrastructure influx from Disney, the owners of ESPN. I queried him as to whether HockeyTech was providing a bundle of technology and private label ability to their partners as BAMTech does for their partnerships. He replied, “Yes, we do offer private branding at HockeyTech. We help build brands and fanbases, especially a local fanbase for tier one leagues, junior hockey, NCAA, minor pro hockey, and professional NHL. We also provide the tech tools for USA Hockey and Hockey Canada, and are the back-end providers for leagues.”
Finally, I wanted to know if expanding beyond North America into Europe and Russia for example was in their future plans. Stu said, “We service some teams in Europe, and a host of international events. Some USA Hockey and Hockey Canada women tournaments, and U-17s and U-16s World Championships.”
Ever since I was a kid, I have loved hockey. My brothers and I loved playing Hockey Night in Canada shootout using a sock puck, and tennis racket and baseball glove for the goalie. I grew up first a Detroit Red Wings NHL fan because I was born in East Lansing, MI. Then our family move to the PNW and I became a fan of Seattle Thunderbirds major junior ice hockey team in the U.S. Division of the Western Conference in the Western Hockey League because attending their live games was so much fun. My skating skills were not so good or I would have probably ended up playing competitively as a youth. Instead I picked up lacrosse and played at Whittier College and Western Washington University, a sport Stu played some as a kid too. I love blogging about the union of sports tech no matter what sport it is but hockey has a special place in my heart.
The 2016 NHL preseason is now underway which means the road to the Stanley Cup has begun and junior hockey is not far behind.
The HockeyTV all access plan costs $24.99. To me that sounds like a lot to ask but for hockey fanatics, career minded players, and leagues and tournaments looking to upgrade, it is the cost of doing digital hockey business in 2016 thanks to HockeyTech.
See y’all later in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world.
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