The NHL lockout is not stopping the New Jersey Devils from producing video content for their fans. The team this month is debuting a Web program called “It’s the Devils Hockey Show” whether regular-season games are played or not.
“The show is our version of ‘Saturday Night Live,’” said John Bochiaro, executive producer of the program, which will run on the club’s website and will be promoted through the Devils’ year-old social media hub, Mission Control. “It’s going to be fun, hopefully funny, and informative. We’ll cover everything we can in an entertaining way.”
Devils players, at least initially, are on the “cannot cover” list. With the NHL and NHL Players’ Association last week still in a stalemate in collective bargaining, interviews with players and even the use of their likenesses are off limits during the lockout.
The Devils say that’s all the more reason to produce the show.
“We still need to engage our fans,” said Rich Krezwick, president of Devils Arena Entertainment, which owns the Devils and controls operational aspects of the 5-year-old Prudential Center. “The show is going to be focused on what happens behind the scenes in the organization” and at the arena.
The first episode includes a look at tryouts for the Devils’ dance team and an interview with radio play-by-play broadcaster Matt Loughlin. Bochiaro, a former staffer at NFL Films and now the director of event production at Prudential Center, said his staff of seven Web producers and writers will pitch ideas to him, and two or three segments ultimately will be selected. Fans will have the opportunity to post questions for the show and give feedback on Twitter and Facebook.
The final product will be edited in the $5 million production studio in the rafters of the arena. Eight biweekly episodes are scheduled, with each expected to be 10 to 15 minutes in length. The Devils will re-evaluate their plans for “It’s the Devils Hockey Show” should the lockout end.
Krezwick said the business plan is content first, commerce later. “Let’s get a good show going at the outset,” he said. “Let’s deliver to our fans something we’re proud of. Once it gets rolling and we create some buzz, then we’ll take it to market.”