The National Hockey League is launching a new web series tied to the NHL playoffs, and is integrating a sponsor, Blackberry, into the program.
The Blackberry All-Access Pre Game Show will premiere Wednesday, Apr. 14 at 4:30 p.m., tied to the first round playoff games. Hosted by Deb Placey, the program will originate from the NHL Powered by Reebok store in New York, and will run every day there is a playoff game.
The show will be available on NHL.com, the official NHL YouTube page, the NHL Facebook page, and a number of sports sites that take advantage of NHL syndicated content, including SBNation.com, Ticketmaster.com and TheScore.com
Canadian smartphone maker Research In Motion will sponsor the series, and will have its signature Blackberry line of phones integrated into the program. RIM was represented by Starcom MediaVest in the deal.
"We realized clearly we have a high passion point platform around the playoffs, so we wanted to look at ways to integrate a sponsor in an interesting way," says Larry Gelfand, senior VP of media sales for the NHL.
In addition to branding in the name, lower third graphics, audio mentions and set integration, the NHL is actually using the Blackberry Messenger (BBM) service during the program. Reporters in the field will use BBM to give updates about the goings on in their beat to Placey, who will relay the information to viewers.
The NHL is also creating a virtual "insider," dubbed Stanley10, that Blackberry users can add to their BBM contacts list. Stanley10 will send breaking news and tips of the day straight to users.
While Blackberry has become a staple in corporate America, the company has been looking to expand its reach in the consumer smartphone market. With Apple set to release version 4 of its iPhone operating system software in June, and Microsoft preparing to relaunch its mobile operating system in the fall, RIM is looking to hype up one of its most unique features: BBM.
"They have been able to transition to more of a consumer friendly product as well," Gelfand says. "They thought [BBM] was a unique product of theirs that a lot of consumers weren't familiar with."
The NHL has built other web shows around integrated sponsors, including a series of player profiles sponsored by the U.S. Army, and Journey To The Cup, which was sponsored by the Dodge Journey.
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