Netflix, Hulu, Crave. All streaming services that are fighting for your attention. Just like how movie and TV streaming services are fighting for your attention and money, so are sports streaming services. However, unlike the TV and movie streaming services which are investing and trying to revolutionize the industry, sports services remain mediocre. Even among the mediocre services, Canadian Hockey League’s streaming service, CHL TV, is a weak competitor in the running.
CHL TV is for fans that want to watch the games but are unable to attend. The pool of people that want to have this service is low and with that, you can understand it wouldn’t be as polished as a mainstream streaming service like Netflix. But even so, there are opportunities to gain fans with an online stream that isn’t capitalized by the league.
CHL TV does have a lot of good with it. No blackouts besides the odd game on CBC, which is free anyway, is great compared to the major leagues. The quality of the games was also great. Compared to other leagues such as the ECHL where some games are a bit grainy, every game was clear enough and you could easily say that every game could be broadcasted on TV.
Another underrated feature was the website interface. The website is clean and easy to find the game you want to watch with a click of a button. They even had buttons if you only had one of the league deals such as the OHL. The free events such as the priority drafts and other events are also a great way to promote the service as well. However, as much as I can say good about the server, I can say a lot of bad about it as well.
To make it clear, a lot of people who work in these jobs are interns. Even so, the on-air talent is great, the camera work is great, and the audio is great. The broadcasts out-performs other leagues such as the AHL and ECHL in that respect. Technical issues are lacking sometimes.
If you are watching a Kingston Frontenacs game you will get the local broadcast of the game. That will include a great broadcast that was meant for TV. However, if you get the Mississauga Steelheads game who has no local TV station you get a radio broadcast for the audio and a broadcast. Although it isn’t bad the quality is noticeable.
The biggest issue is some stats don’t get tracked such as penalties and sometimes goals will take a while to update. It’s not a huge problem, but those inconsistencies start piling up and when you are against other sports and leagues that do better it is a problem.
CHL TV’s biggest problems come down to customer experience and advertising. CHL has a few games a week outside of the platform that is on CBC but with 60 plus teams, there isn’t a lot of coverage outside of the program.
While the league wants people to physically go to the games more than just watch, there seems like a wasted opportunity from the league. Covid changed everything and despite sports leagues struggling, soccer and basketball took massive strides in Canadian markets to the point that for the first time ever for many CHL markets there is real competition.
And compared to those other leagues the CHL has some type of archaic idea of advertising itself with the belief that people will come because Canada likes hockey and hockey is part of our culture. That will be true for a long time, but it isn’t good enough for the CHL. The attendance in the last couple of years has started to decline and there needs to be a new strategy to get new fans into the buildings.
Why am I bringing advertisement into this?
Because CHL TV gives possible newcomers a chance to see what the league is about. But you can’t do that with just games alone. The CHL is a brand and different sports brands are taking more initiatives to broadcast themselves. Riot Games, the creator of the esports game League of Legends produces music, F1 got a Netflix documentary, NFL is using various social media to extend their international reach. Even though the CHL doesn’t have as many resources as those do, there could be something they can do to get people into the front door and care about the league from inside of their house.
CEBL+ has interesting player interviews, documentaries and other things on their website that make their streaming service worth it and it’s a lot cheaper than CHL TV. The player interviews on CHL TV are comparatively more boring because the interview never showcases the individuality of the players and so you get the same questions for players who will probably give out the same few answers.
But the biggest issue is how unfriendly the service is for people compared to other leagues. In the ECHL’s service, FloSports, you can cancel anytime, change your service to make it cheaper or give more leagues, or less.
For $80 for one of the leagues for the whole year, it isn’t terrible compared to other sports packaging, but compared to TV and movies it’s a lot of money for less content. But the worst part is that the $80 doesn’t go into the playoffs. This is the only league I have seen where there are separate deals and you have to buy both of them to get the regular season and the playoffs.
The playoffs are also $60, which is not a correct price compared to the regular season. It doesn’t feel like it’s customer-friendly when you bar people who have given your service a chance for a year and do not allow them to watch the most important games of the year. If CHL TV is for the super fans that want to follow the league more than they are already doing, it feels like a disservice than a service.
CHL TV does have a chance. But there needs to be better marketing and new-age ideas that can connect to younger generations. Twitch, YouTube, etc. There are so many options on social media that can broadcast the CHL into being the definitive second league of Canada behind the NHL. But with what they are doing now they look complacent in their decline.
main image credit: