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Epix ‘Winter Classic’ Doc to Skate Across Platforms

NEW YORK — When Epix drops the puck on its Road to the Winter Classic programming next month, the premium network and the National Hockey League will make the series available to non-subscribers on a number of websites and digital platforms.

The four-part series, chronicling the Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals as they get ready for the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day at Nationals Park in D.C., will make its linear bow on Dec. 16 and will also be available to nonauthenticated subscribers on Epix.com and NHL.com, as well as via their apps and their Facebook pages. Similarly, the programming — from Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Ross Greenburg, who introduced the program’s forbear when he was HBO Sports president — will be available on the teams’ websites and apps.

The same game plan will be put in play when Epix, Greenburg and the NHL preview the Feb. 21 Stadium Series matchup at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., between the San Jose Sharks and the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings.

The linear and digital showings will be trumpeted by a multipronged ad campaign from Epix and the NHL that starts Nov. 17.

Kirk Iwanowski, chief marketing officer for Epix, said last Wednesday (Nov. 12) at the Next TV Summit panel “Epix & NHL Partnerhsip: Technology, Programming and New Opportunities to Reach New Audiences” that the programming is being positioned not just as a sports franchise show, but as entertainment fare that will have appeal beyond the 60 million U.S. hockey fans.

The tentpole event is being supported by a multimedia ad campaign stretching across outof- home, network radio, cable, print and digital platforms to promote tune-in to the linear and digital airings, Iwanowski said. A flanking marketing arc is aimed at acquisition and upgrades with Epix’s affiliate partners.

NHL COO John Collins told Multichannel News after the session that the support and budget Epix is affording Greenburg and his production company speaks to the level of enthusiasm the programmer has for The Road to the Winter Classic. He said that evaluations would be made, but in his conversations with Epix CEO Mark Greenberg the idea was that this project would air with the premium programmer over several years to come.