NZIHL reassures fans there will be a livestream in 2017
The New Zealand Ice Hockey League (NZIHL) is committed to providing a livestream of its 2017 season in the wake of heavy backlash from fans and volunteers.
The league announced late last week that it would be cutting its long-term livestream partner - Slapshot Productions - which helped deliver more than 200 NZIHL games to fans across the globe over the past four years.
The news was met with strong consternation from both fans and volunteers who expressed their disappointment on social media.
"Very sad day, we watch it in England, bit too far to go in person, will miss it greatly" Jennifer Pethick said on Facebook.
"Boneheaded at it's finest. Look forward to seeing the new sub-par streaming service," Rob Sadd also said on Facebook.
The decision has resulted in volunteers including camera operators, commentators, and social media producers feeling hung out to dry.
However, Paul Scott - general manager of the NZIHL - wanted to reassure supporters that the league was pursuing alternatives and that a livestream of the 2017 NZIHL season would still be available.
He said the cost of Slapshot's service had become too much, and as a result, an alternative needed to be found.
"The NZIHL has paid a lot of money for the livestream over the last few years," Scott said.
Players pay to play in the league and had invested a lot of time, money, sacrifice, and holiday time to travel and play, he said.
"The players are able to save over $400 per person this year by not using the previous livestream provider."
Scott said that since the inception of the livestream. costs had almost doubled and despite desperately trying to find sponsors, no bids had been successful.
As a result, Scott said the league had been exploring alternative options with an internet broadcast of the 2017 NZIHL looking to be the most likely.
"There are many of these ranging from using Facebook Live up to much more elaborate productions," Scott said.
"To date, the games broadcast on livestream have been free to the viewer and we don't believe that a pay to view is a viable option at the moment until some of the broadcast issues are resolved."
Scott said at the NZIHL annual meeting it was decided unanimously not to continue with the current provider.
He wanted to reassure volunteers that their service and contribution was greatly appreciated and the NZIHL would like nothing more than to keep them on board.
However, Jez Brown - director of Slapshot Productions - did not think volunteers would stick around.
"Most of the 50 plus Slapshot volunteers will not be returning to the NZIHL given they came from outside the hockey community and have no affinity to the sport," Brown said.
Brown said it was a short-sighted decision which could potentially set the sport back years.
"It's extremely sad for those of us who worked so hard to get it to where it is today and I believe the ramifications of this decision for the league and wider community have not been properly considered."
Scott thanked Slapshot for all its work over the past four years and said without it, the league would not have been able to reach all the viewers it had, nor would teams have had such good support when playing on the road.