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Friday September 24, 2010 9:45 pm

NHL and HBO team up for reality series




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: NHL,

Sidney CrosbyWhen the NHL started its “Winter Classic” tradition a few years ago, it received a lot of praise for coming up with a style of game that embraced its roots and actually generated some interest in hockey from those who normally wouldn’t dare ever watch the ice-bound sport. This year, they’re hoping to build on its success by pitting the game’s two biggest players – Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin – against each other. Also, they’ve tapped HBO to create a reality series documenting the road leading up to January’s outdoor game.

HBO will produce four episodes featuring the rivalry between the players on the Penguins and the Capitals, starting in December. The four shows will air leading up to the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. HBO has produced similar shows in the past, such as the “24/7” boxing series and the NFL “Hard Knocks” shows. With the success of those two more popular sports, does the NHL even stand a chance at bringing in anybody new to watch?

If the NHL’s goal is to expand its viewership and create additional interest in what’s already the most exciting game of the regular season, just how much of an increase are they looking for? The fact that they’ve been trying to expand their brand into the Southern States for decades, as well as that the Winter Classic can’t be played in those areas due to the climate severely limits the possibilities of such an event, so would anybody in Arizona or Florida, for example, even care about this HBO/NHL collaboration?

This HBO show may indeed help the NHL boost its popularity, but only if they stay out of HBO’s way and refrains from editing too much. We all know the players are going to swear. Still, you have to give credit to the NHL for continually trying to make the game more popular. It just might be a case of where the game actually can’t get any bigger than it is now. Some would probably say that it’s too big as it is and needs to contract. But we can talk about that when Gary Bettman retires.

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