May 30, 2024
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Longtime Edmonton Oilers’ Manager of Video Production, Ryan Hyrcun has been a big believer in digital media since the beginning. He first brought content to diehard fans of the NHL team via social media channels, then helping to launch Oilers+, a streaming platform that gives fans exclusive access to behind-the-scenes content, live shows, pre/post-game shows, press conferences and more. The team previously used a different transport solution for their live content, but learned from other NHL teams the LiveU solution was more user-friendly and functional.

What happened next was a slight change in the workflow, an even bigger opportunity to bring fan engagement to the team’s dedicated following, and a significant spike in revenue. With a 12-month subscription model, the Oilers grew the Oilers+ OTT from 10K subs in the first year to an eclipse of 20K+ in year two, bringing revenue to over $1M. This bump directly correlates with the increase in live content to the app.

The Challenge

The Oilers wanted to expand their live coverage – going live at every home and away game to produce their exclusive behind-the-scenes content. Throughout the season, they must also figure out how they are going to produce more special events, like special outdoor games. For the 20th anniversary of the famous NHL Heritage Classic, one of the series of outdoor games played in Football stadiums across Canada, the Oilers TV Production Team had to take their live production to the next level.

The 2023 Heritage Classic took place in front of 60,000 fans at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada. Because this was a neutral or offsite stadium, the team did not want to rely solely on the venue’s connectivity and wanted the freedom to roam around the entire stadium and be able to capture content from everywhere.

The Solution

After a trial period, the Oilers made the investment in LiveU, with a multi-camera LU800 field unit and one compact LU300S field encoder. Today, they have come to use LiveU for both their OTT and social media content creation during their 82-game season.

The value of the units is their ability to transmit video from anywhere. This gives the Oilers TV team the ability to navigate to where they wish and be confident their live video is being transmitted back to their production control room at Roger’s Place in Edmonton, where an editor and switcher reside to control the whole show.

For their home games and special events, such as the renowned NHL Heritage Classic, the team utilized a Remote Production workflow with LiveU at the heart of it all. The team had a camera at the pre- and post-game press conferences, some at the family-skate on the rink before the game, and a few more scattered around the massive venue. With the multi-camera LU800, the team is also able to plug more cameras directly into one unit – meaning they could multiply what they do without their budget being impacted.

“Our team also plays in the US and in Canada, and what is great about LiveU flexibility and versatility is that we do not need to switch out SIM cards when we travel. The plug-and-play unit simply works wherever we go,” noted Hyrcun.

Engaging Oilers+ Content

Oilers+ includes content that fans cannot get anywhere else – longer form programming and highlights, plus special press conferences with the GM or President. “The core value of Oilers+ offers glimpses into the team and humanizes the players, delivering constant live coverage that connects fans with the team,” said Hyrcun.

He added, “Switching to LiveU really enhanced our live coverage. It offered more flexibility, better signal strength, and the ability to do more on the road and create a better product for the fans.”

The team also uses LiveU to produce Social Media teasers that whet the appetite of fans and drive them to the OTT platform for even more content. In the offseason, the team plans to use LiveU for community events, highlights, and other live special events.

The Results 

In addition to the increase in Oilers+ paid subscribers, the production team also increased efficiency. Using LiveU’s non-live features on the LU800 sped up the time it took to get post-game social media content online – leveraging the unit as a “super-hot spot.”

Using that feature, the tight window from the bus ride to the airport during away games provides just enough time to get their content online to feed excited fans still craving content right before they go to bed.

Pull Quote:

Ryan Hyrcun, Edmonton Oilers’ Manager of Video Production: “LiveU gives us the capability of expanding our horizons and possibilities when we are doing our remote and road coverage. LiveU makes everything so much easier so we can focus on the creative side for our live productions