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 helped launch Oilers+, a streaming platform giving 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 that the LiveU solution was more user-friendly and functional.
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 CAD$1M. This bump directly correlates with the increase in live content to the app.
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 also aimed to produce more special events, like special outdoor games. For the 20th anniversary of the famous NHL Heritage Classic, 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 capture content from everywhere.
After a trial period, the Oilers invested in LiveU, with a multi-camera LU800 field unit and one compact LU300S field encoder. They 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, giving 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.
For their home games and special events like the NHL Heritage Classic, the team utilised 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.
Oilers+ includes content that fans cannot get anywhere else – longer form programming and highlights, plus special press conferences. “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,” said Hyrcun. The team also uses LiveU to produce Social Media teasers that drive fans 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.
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.
According to Ryan Hyrcun, “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.”