NHL fans are already fed up with the new digital board ads

Hockey fans are already fed up with the NHL's new digital board ads.
Hockey fans are already fed up with the NHL's new digital board ads.

This season, the NHL has debuted digitally enhanced dasherboards (DED), which “erase and replace” the advertising found on arena rink boards with virtual ads on broadcasts. The boards sometimes resemble the traditional ones fans are accustomed to, other times, one specific advertiser takes over the boards and the entire rink lights up with its ad.

During the broadcast of the Vancouver Canucks versus Oilers contest in Edmonton Wednesday night, fans expressed their frustration over the glitchy and distracting ads, some of which caused players on the ice to merge with advertisements on the boards.

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The technical issues were also a source of frustration during Wednesday's broadcast on TNT, Tuesday's opening slate on ESPN, and for the Global Series in Prague.

Several fans sent a clear message to the NHL about the DED system, voicing their exasperation with the digital ads. Fans are demanding the NHL remove the digitally enhanced dasherboards, while others believe they should be used once the system is improved and free of any distracting glitches. Complaints also came from newcomers watching at home who are learning about the game. They struggled with tracking the puck as boards lit up and took attention away from the play.

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The NHL did mention how it expects there to be an adjustment period for fans, but that it’ll ultimately improve their viewing experience and help national sponsors and local advertisers. Two days into the 2022-23 season, fans are proving the league wrong.

"Like anything else, you're going to have your people that don't like it, that think it is difficult to watch. But over time, like everything else, people will get used to it, and we're not concerned at all whatsoever," Keith Wachtel, the NHL's chief business officer and executive vice president of global partnerships, told ESPN ahead of the season.

The project has been in the making for seven years and cost tens of millions of dollars. The first time the NHL put advertisements on its boards was back in 1981 with the Minnesota North Stars.

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