GoPro is about to bring NHL fans a lot closer to the ice. GoPro has partnered with the NHL to provide its small, rugged cameras for use during live broadcasts of the league's games. This includes first-person footage broadcast from players' helmets and footage captured from cameras around the rink and inside the goals. The NHL intends to start using live GoPro footage during the All-Star Skills Competition on January 24th and potentially during the All-Star Game the following day.
GoPro's cameras will show players' skating and stickhandling
As for regular games, GoPro is likely to have a smaller role. Its cameras may still be mounted around the rink and in the goal for live broadcasts, but don't expect to see them hanging off of players' helmets anytime soon. "I don't see that down the road, where players are wearing it," Bob Chesterman, an NHL programming exec, tells The Verge. What is possible is that referees could one day be skating around with them, but even that, Chesterman says, is "a long way down the road." Instead, the NHL may start working with helmet manufacturers to add embedded cameras — an integration that seemingly wouldn't involve GoPro but would be a lot safer than using a mounted camera.
GoPro has been building toward a major sports deal like this for a little while now. It began testing the use of first-person footage with the NHL last year, and it recently announced a partnership that allows GoPro footage to be broadcast live — lifting perhaps the biggest barrier that prevented use of its cameras during games. The NHL intends to use GoPro footage to demonstrate players' "skating, stickhandling, goal scoring, and netminding" skills, saying that it'll allow the league to present better stories. This is also an important step for GoPro, which is trying to make its cameras' footage as marketable as its cameras themselves. To that end, getting that footage in live broadcasts is a big win — even if it won't be doing a lot of first-person work.
Update January 23rd, 6:00PM ET: This story has been updated with comment from the NHL about how GoPro footage will be used in regular games.