Back in the 1990s when I was working in corporate PR at MCI, I'd read a lot of stories in the tech press that would wonder out loud about what form of broadband Internet access would come to dominate the consumer market. Would it be any one of the many flavors of DSL? Would cable companies steal a march on telecoms with cable modems, or could fiber optic or some unnamed wireless technology win the day?
In the end, it was all a lot of hot air and wasted pixels, because we've got all of those technologies delivering broadband to us now, while nobody really ever expected accessing the Web from wireless devices would be quite the rage that it is today. And when we think about how we're going to watch hockey in the future, we probably need to keep the broadband question from the 90s in mind. The fact is, we're going to consume hockey content from every platform imaginable. But as for right now, there may be one platform that has pulled ahead of the others. I'm talking about the one provided by Comcast.
In yesterday's edition of Multichannel News, I caught the story about how Comcast -- the owner of Versus -- is going to begin carrying the NHL Network in its On Demand tier:
Under the deal, terms of which were not disclosed, the nation's largest operator and foremost proponent of on-demand programming, will have access to a host of the NHL Network's coverage, including condensed games only hours after their completion, player profiles, historical vignettes, daily and weekly content wraps, draft coverage and network series like NHL On The Fly. Some of the content will be available in high-definition.
Did you miss that big goal last night? No need to worry now, because you can just fire up NHL On The Fly and watch their highlight package to your heart's content. Did you get home late and forget to set your DVR? Again, no worries, a condensed version of the game along the lines of MSG's Rangers in 60 will more than likely be waiting for you when you get home. Best of all, you'll be able to watch this content on your widescreen HD television, not just your computer, like with the NHL GameCenter Live product.
A couple of years ago, I got angry at Comcast after yet another billing error, and dropped them in favor of DirecTV. But with this announcement, I have to admit I'm thinking hard about re-upping with Comcast. I've been an NHL Center Ice subscriber for some time now. But now, with the NHL Network and its expanded coverage of Hockey Night in Canada available combined with this new on demand package, dropping NHL Center Ice would allow me to save some money and still be able to enjoy all of the content I'm paying for now. It's a deal I have to think about.