Hockey livestream put on ice

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - SAMHEWAT

The only live broad­cast provider of New Zealand ice hockey games has been axed.

The New Zealand Ice Hockey Fed­er­a­tion (NZIHF) and the New Zealand Ice Hockey League (NZIHL) have both dumped a lo­cal livestream ser­vice that has been run­ning since 2012.

Slap­shot Pro­duc­tions are the sole provider of live cov­er­age for all In­ter­na­tional Ice Hockey Fed­er­a­tion (IIHF) tour­na­ments in New Zealand as well as more than 200 NZIHL games over the past four years.

The news comes just two months be­fore the 2017 Di­vi­sion II Group B IIHF World Cham­pi­onships are to be held in Auck­land, which will be the first time since 2009 the Ice Blacks will com­pete on home ice in an IIHF tour­na­ment.

Gen­eral sec­re­tary of the NZIHF Jonathan Al­bright said the de­ci­sion was made due to the costs of the ser­vice ex­ceed­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s bud­get.

‘‘The cost for stream­ing would put the bud­get in the red,’’ Al­bright said.

‘‘If we were to do the live stream­ing, the funds would come out of junior devel­op­ment, which we sim­ply can­not af­ford to do.’’

How­ever, the de­ci­sion has cre­ated di­vi­sion among the ice hockey com­mu­nity, with many vol­un­teers and or­gan­is­ers left scratch­ing their heads.

Jez Brown, direc­tor of Slap­shot Pro­duc­tions, said both de­ci­sions came out of the blue.

‘‘The po­si­tion it leaves us in makes the busi­ness ba­si­cally un­ten­able,’’ Brown said.

‘‘We’re prob­a­bly go­ing to have to wrap-up the busi­ness, and that’s very sad.’’

Slap­shot’s ex­o­dus will also see the loss of more than 50 of its vol­un­teers.

‘‘Those peo­ple aren’t happy,’’ Brown said. ‘‘I don’t know if they are go­ing to stay in­volved or not.

‘‘I re­ally don’t think they re­alise what they’re los­ing. It’s not just about the video cov­er­age, it’s so much big­ger than that.’’

Since Slap­shot be­gan livestream­ing the five-team NZIHL - of which the West Auck­land Ad­mi­rals and the Botany Swarm are a part of - viewer num­bers had soared.

In 2015, it had more than 38,000 views, and in 2016 that num­ber reached 81,000.

NZIHL gen­eral man­ager Paul Scott said it would not end livestream­ing al­to­gether how­ever, and it was work­ing to­wards an al­ter­na­tive.

GETTY

Stam­pede’s Ryan Strayer.

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