The National Hockey League made headlines this fall with the introduction of a brand-new system of ‘digitally-enhanced dasher boards,’ which uses AI-supported technology to replace physical in-arena advertising with virtual ones – in real time.
The update, which was introduced at the beginning of the 2022-23 season, allows advertisers to employ dynamic branded content (including URLs, social media integration, QR codes, and flighted marketing campaigns). Previously, this wasn’t feasible with the traditional, static ads printed on the boards. The flexible nature of the system means that all viewers do not necessarily have to view the same ad content at the same time. The League (and individual venues) can now sell targeted branding space in markets across North America, allowing fans to consume content specific to their region.
Unfortunately, the process of overlaying boards mid-game has been plagued with ‘technical glitches’ which have left fans disappointed in the viewing experience. As the AI-backed program replaces on-camera ads with a digital version, the images can glitch or appear distorted – particularly when players cluster around a single segment of the ice along the boards. In response to annoyance from some fans, NHL chief business officer Keith Wachtel made it clear that updates are coming, and this is just the first step towards bringing a dynamic viewing experience to hockey fans.