NHL ASL sample

The NHL and P-X-P are producing the first-of-its kind alternate broadcast of the Stanley Cup Final in American Sign Language for the Deaf community.

“NHL in ASL” is available on the digital platforms of ESPN+ and Canada’s Sportsnet+ and features Deaf broadcasters providing real-time play-by-play coverage and color commentary during each game of the best-of-7 Final between the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers.

It’s the latest collaboration between the NHL and P-X-P, which has provided ASL interpretation for signature events like the Winter Classic, Heritage Classic, NHL All-Star Weekend and Stadium Series, and Commissioner Gary Bettman’s State of the League address.

“Our continued partnership with P-X-P allows the NHL to do something no other professional sports league has done before: provide a fully immersive, unique, and accessible viewing experience that specifically meet the needs of the Deaf community,” said Kim Davis, NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs. “This NHL-led production further exemplifies the League’s commitment to producing accessible and interactive content for all of our fans -- including underserved communities. Fans of all abilities are encouraged to tune in to experience this first-of-a-kind broadcast as a way to understand and share the experience with someone who is Deaf.”

Steve Mayer, NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer, said the broadcast won't be the traditional play-by-play and color commentary, “but rather something more conversational and relaxed in nature providing a deeper layer of additional storytelling.”

“The first-of-its kind production is something we hope and plan to expand on beyond the Stanley Cup Final and into the 2024-25 season,” Mayer said.

For the first time, watch the Stanley Cup Final in American Sign Language

“NHL in ASL” will feature Jason Altmann, P-X-P’s chief operating officer who is third-generation Deaf, and Noah Blankenship, who currently works in the Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services in the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships under the city and county of Denver.

Altmann and Blankenship will provide ASL descriptions of major plays, like goals and hits, as well as referee calls and rule explanations to clarify decisions made on the ice.

Graphic visualizations will include a large, metered, real-time bar that demonstrates crowd noise levels to viewers, specifically around certain events like goals and penalties. Also included will be custom visual emotes to depict goals, penalties, the intensity of hits, and whether the puck hits the post/crossbar.

“The opportunity to do a Deaf-centric broadcast of a premier sporting event in ASL is a positive, seismic change for the Deaf community,” Altmann said. “As a sports fan growing up, I couldn’t relate with the broadcasters because some elements were not well captured with closed captioning. Now, we are creating an opportunity for Deaf sports fans and viewers to watch Deaf broadcasters and fell engaged through ASL.”

Brice Christianson, P-X-P’s founder and CEO, said “NHL in ASL” is a dream come true for the Deaf community who watch sports.

About 30 million Americans over age 12 have hearing loss in both ears and about two to three out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears, according to the National Institutes on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. There’s an estimated 357,000 people in Canada who are culturally Deaf and 3.21 million who are hard of hearing, according to the Canadian Association for the Deaf.

“It gives the Deaf community the belief that accessibility and inclusion and representation is possible in professional sports,” Christianson said of the broadcast.
“Accessibility, inclusion and representation is something that the Deaf and hard of hearing community don’t get consistently, and what we’ve been doing with the NHL over time is building it.

“Now we’re excited to kick the door open and build off it.”