New innovations or ideas from sports teams or leagues, are often met by contempt from those on the sidelines.
The UK’s Elite League chose not to re-sign a deal with subscription channel Premier Sports this past summer.
The Elite League remained silent on the matter, bar for saying there was no deal in place, while Premier Sports were rather brash indicating to fans that it wasn’t their fault a contract wasn’t signed.
We can only surmise as to why no deal was agreed but I imagine there was less money on the table with PS taking on a larger NHL contract and attaining rights to other sports. Either way, it left PS looking rather amateurish with their brazen attitude and subscribers and fans alike, rather miffed.
Roll forward to December 6th and the Elite League announced an enterprising new television deal.
A weekly highlights show on free to-air-television, to launch this Thursday (December 8th).
The programme is called “Facing Off” and shall be broadcast on sports channel, Front Runner.
If you don’t recognise the name, then that’s because it’s brand new, as of October this year.
According to the official press release “FACING OFF will be available in 19 million homes across the UK and Northern Ireland on Freeview, FreeSat, Talk Talk/BT and Sky, on new sports channel Front Runner.
The one hour show will feature all 10 Elite League teams, with the best of the action from the matches across, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The programme will be shown at 6pm on Thursdays, 10pm on Fridays and 9am on Saturdays.”
In realistic terms, ice hockey is an invisible sport in the United Kingdom. It has a devoted and passionate fan base, but to grow and expand the sport, it has to promote itself to the widest audience possible.
A free-to-air channel rather than PS certainly gives you a better opportunity to do just that and is something to build on should it prove to be a successful venture.
This won’t be some cheap and nasty production that some fear, as Televideo are going to be involved – the company who formerly produced ice hockey for Sky.
Paul Scivill, Managing Director of Televideo said: “We are delighted to be working with the Elite League again and with a new channel in Front Runner.
There have already been grievances from fans who either disagree with this innovation or don’t have access to one of the free-to-air outlets.
The latter has been accounted for with the program due to be available on the Elite League website on a Friday.
Front Runner promote themselves as “The UK’s only free-to-air sports channel” and are looking to build upon their portfolio of sports.
That currently includes X-Games, Boxing, UCMMA cage fighting, World Tour Poker, along with documentaries featuring motocross, snowboarding, surfing and mountain biking.
Front Runner is available to watch on SKY ch468, Freesat ch250, Freeview ch91, Talk Talk/ BT ch91.