Reports indicate U.S. cable giant HBO will not produce a 24/7 reality series in advance of the NHL’s 2015 Winter Classic game as it has for the past three full seasons. It’s a shame, as everyone involved in that program helped put together one hell of a show.
The 24/7 series gave the NHL an NFL Films-type treatment, and those who appeared in front of the cameras – first, in 2011, when the Capitals and Penguins squared off in Pittsburgh; then, when the Flyers and Rangers played the following year; and finally, last season’s showdown between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs – were better for it. Okay, maybe that’s not true of Bruce Boudreau (NSFW language at this link) and Randy Carlyle:
But even with their imperfections laid bare, the coaches, players and league benefitted from the behind-the-curtain glimpse the series provided to a fan base that couldn’t get enough. It gave newcomers to the sport a sense of who players are; of their day-to-day existences; of their humble personalities. It has long been said the players sell the game, and 24/7 understood that and knew how to exploit their subjects as tastefully as possible.
If, as reports indicate, the door is open for HBO to bring the series back down the line, the NHL ought to begin its lobbying efforts immediately. While many of the league’s employees – particularly, NHL GMs – will be relieved not to have their team under an even more intrusive microscope and fretting over the on-ice impact of the cameras, the reality is that hockey is competing with a slew of other entertainment entities for the eyeballs and imaginations of consumers, and innovations such as this one don’t come along every day. Perhaps the league can take the 24/7 blueprint and use it on another event – say, the Stanley Cup Final, or a league-controlled World Cup.
In any case, let’s have a round of applause for the people who worked on 24/7. Thanks to decisions such as hiring actor Liev Schreiber to narrate all three seasons, as well the cast of characters – some of them odder than others:
– the series excelled at holding our interest, and it made us more appreciative of a game many appreciated quite a bit already. It will be missed.