Sunday December 3, 2023

Inside The NHL’s Experiment With Digital Dasher Boards

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

By: Zach Seybert, @zlseybert

Hockey fans are in for a treat this fall with the World Cup of Hockey taking place before the start of the NHL season. Even more exciting is the fact that hockey is being broadcast on ESPN, which has been a subject of debate among hockey enthusiasts for some time. For those who have tuned into the World Cup of Hockey thus far, viewers might have noticed something strange on the dasher boards around the rink — the advertisements have been changing.

These digital dasherboards allow for networks to use their own sponsorships during broadcasts. Photo via

These digital dasherboards allow for networks to use their own sponsorships during broadcasts. Photo via

The World Cup of Hockey is being played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada and the tournament is being held for the first time in 12 years. Exclusive rights to the tournament are held by ESPN, who with the use of the computer-generated imagery (CGI) advertisements on the dasher boards, or “digitally enhanced dasherboards,” are making the most of the two-week tournament when it comes to sponsorships. These advertisements cover up the logos of corporate partners, in this case companies who have partnerships with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Air Canada Centre, and are replaced with ESPN’s own television partners, which can be seen during television broadcasts.

According to a Forbes article by Kurt Badenhausen, CGI ads are not new in sports, especially hockey. Broadcasts have used CGI logos behind the glass of the nets and sometimes dasher boards are even left blank to allow for CGI logos to change throughout the game. What is new, however, is essentially replacing the in-arena logos with different ones to be seen by TV viewers.

The ability to change these advertisements open new avenues for revenue for broadcasting partners but also give teams and leagues the opportunity to have static advertisements, as well providing exposure to fans in the arena. Corporate partners buy space on these boards because they are easily viewable during TV broadcasts. The downside of this technology is that it could become increasingly difficult to sell these spaces to companies when they could be hidden to viewers.

As someone interested in the nuts and bolts of sports sponsorship and various activations, the opportunity to sell multiple sponsorships and have them vary throughout different points of the game is fascinating. However, with these CGI ads on full display throughout the World Cup of Hockey, not everyone agrees with my viewpoint. Many viewers have had mixed reviews and thought the boards looked “glitchy” throughout the game. The World Cup is a joint effort between the NHLPA and NHL with the International Ice Hockey Federation. With this advertising experiment, the NHL is likely looking to use this method of advertising during its upcoming season as well. According to Sports Business Daily, the use of these digitally enhanced dasher boards, “allows the NHL to create four separate board advertisements for different broadcast feeds lined up for the World Cup tournament: one for the English-speaking U.S. audience, one for the English-speaking Canadian audience, one for the French-speaking Canadian audience, and one for the use by European and other international broadcasters.”

Given the increased technology available for sponsorships and advertisements today, the use of CGI to create multiple advertisements during a game or event is likely to grow. We have already seen this in the NFL with the digitally projected first-down line that viewers have gotten so used to and with subsequent ads projected onto the field during the broadcast. Soccer stadiums have used a variation of this with their digital boards surrounding the pitch. Green screens have been commonly used behind the plate on baseball broadcasts. It seems that it is inevitable for CGI to make its way into different sports, which will ultimately change the way we view ads and the game experience.

Front Office Sports is a leading multi-platform publication and industry resource that covers the intersection of business and sports.

Want to learn more, or have a story featured about you or your organization? Contact us today.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

NHL Is Latest Pro League To Rethink Its All-Star Game

League joins NBA, NFL in looking to revamp midseason showcase.
A view of a game ball and the Bally Sports logo on the stanchion post before the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Orlando Magic at the American Airlines Center.

Bankruptcy Judge Approves NBA, Bally Sports Deal, But It’s Complicated

The NHL has a similar deal, but MLB and SBG are balking.
Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger and center Matt Duchene celebrate after the Stars defeat the St. Louis Blues in the overtime shootout period at the American Airlines Center.

The Dallas Stars Want to Be Part of NHL’s Mexico Movement

The NHL shortlisted Mexico City as a future host city.

Streaming Might Be The Future, But Over-The-Air Sports Aren't Going Away

Sports broadcasts are experiencing a major shift in how fans consume them.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

CFP Looking to Super Bowl for Media Rights Plan


Featured Today

The College Football Playoff is considering rotating TV networks for the national championship game.

CFP Considers Super Bowl-Like Rotation For National Championship Game

Multiple networks could share rights to the championship game, sources told FOS.
Brett Favre
November 27, 2023

Favre Welfare Case Hold-Up? "AG’s Office Has Not Expressed Interest In Pursuing"

The DOJ interviewed Brett Favre in early 2020.
The future of the Pac-12 rests on a court decision.
November 24, 2023

The Pac-12 Plays Its Final Regular-Season Game. Then A Court Decides Its Fate.

The conference's future rests with a court decision.
Lane Kiffin
November 9, 2023

Ole Miss, Lane Kiffin Lawyers Argue for Dismissal of Player Lawsuit

FOS obtained audio of Lane Kiffin's interaction with the player behind lawsuit.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Multiple - USA Careers
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Saco Bay PT
Multiple - USA Careers

MLS’ Chris Schlosser on Pioneering the Digital-First Sports League with AI

Chris Schlosser discusses MLS's growth and digital transformation.
Titans stadium.
April 19, 2023

Titans' Historic New $2.1B Stadium One Step Closer to Reality

About $1.26B in public money would go toward the new stadium.
April 25, 2023

Oakland A’s Could Share Stadium with Triple-A Team

The Oakland A's could be searching for a place to play.

NHL’s Chris Foster on Amplifying Content Distribution With Automation

Learn how the NHL is using WSC Sports to increase fan engagement.
May 20, 2022

Crypto Crash Impact on Sports Sponsorships

Prior to the last two weeks, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, exchanges, and a host…
March 11, 2022

The Evolution of Consumer Wearables

The wearables market has seen incredible amounts of growth since the onset of the pandemic. Trends like telemedicine and remote patient monitoring have helped spur adoption and inspired new consumer products that allow for the tracking and collection of biometric data.
February 11, 2022

The Role of Live Sports in Streaming

The streaming wars have intensified as the field is as competitive as ever. One way to retain customers? The answer might be live sports.
February 4, 2022

Super Bowl Ad Market Examined

The Super Bowl is now only one week away and the stakes…