With the Stanley Cup Playoffs in full swing, the National Hockey League has launched a social TV game companion, the Molson Canadian NHL PrePlay app, becoming the first of the four major sports leagues to develop a predictive game app.
Created in conjunction with predictive game studio PrePlay Sports, the free iPad app (available for the iPhone any day now, with an Android version coming out at the start of next season) asks fans questions through a real-time feed linked to a live game, calling on them to predict what will happen on the ice. Players compete against others in their social network to earn points and win virtual trophies by correctly guessing everything from shots on goal for each team to save percentages for each teams’ goalie.
“We wanted to build a second-screen environment with the objective of driving tune-in and sustained viewership,” says NHL VP of digital mobile strategy Chris Golier, who points out that, according to Nielsen research, 88% of tablet owners have used their device while watching television. “So having a game where you can play along and not be passive but an active participant makes watching the game much more fun, and it helps to bring in the casual fan who might not be able to sit through a three-hour game. Those fans now have a reason to stay longer.”
Molson is fully integrated into the app as lead sponsor, and the company’s presence is seen through everything from a logo on center ice to useful tools like a Molson Hockey House finder, which guides fans to local bars where they can watch games. Golier says players will be able to digitally connect with Hockey Houses and other establishments in a future iteration of the app, enabling them to play NHL PrePlay with fans outside of their social circle who are also at the bar. “It would create a more social environment and drive people into bars to watch games,” Golier theorizes.
Meanwhile, as part of the NHL’s mission to “stitch together screens,” a new sync ad technology provided by SecondScreen Networks is currently being tested within NHL PrePlay. This technology has the power to identify an ad on broadcast television and then instantly serve a companion contextual ad on the iPad. “It’s a great thing to have in our sales arsenal as we talk to our league sponsors for next season,” Golier says, noting, “We want to make advertising contextual, and we want to make it useful, and that will make it impactful.”