NHL and Big City Greens Team Up for First Ever Animated Hockey Game

An animated hockey game? On my TV? It’s not as weird as you might think! ESPN, Disney Channel, and the National Hockey League are teaming up for the “NHL Big City Greens Classic” – the first-ever live, animated NHL game telecast.

The Big City Greens Classic will feature the Washington Capitals versus the New York Rangers. The game, which airs Monday, March 14 at 7pm EDT, will be broadcast live on ESPN and ESPN+. An alternate presentation featuring live, real-time volumetric animation of players and teams modeled after characters on Disney Branded Television’s Emmy® Award-winning animated comedy Big City Greens, will be broadcast on ESPN+, Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney+.

“Working with Disney Channel and the NHL, we are producing a telecast that will reach a new and different audience and help to grow hockey fandom even more,” said Ilan Ben-Hanan, senior vice president of Programming and Acquisitions, ESPN. “Big City Greens has a huge following in a younger audience that we are excited to tap into, offering a fun and creative way to enjoy the game across Disney platforms.”

“We’ve said from day one that our partnership with The Walt Disney Company is a big win for our fans and our League,” said Dave Lehanski, NHL’s executive vice president of Business Development and Innovation. “We’ve spent years investing in a fast and accurate puck and player tracking system to help us grow the game. The ‘NHL Big City Greens Classic’ will demonstrate how we can leverage data from NHL EDGE — our puck and player tracking system — to create entirely new fan experiences for a younger audience in collaboration with incredible partners like The Walt Disney Company, ESPN and Beyond Sports. What a testament — to have the greatest animation company of all time leverage its incomparable creativity and IP to promote and grow our game.”

“Hockey is an incredibly exciting and animated sport, but we felt it wasn’t animated enough. We’re thrilled to be partnering with the NHL and ESPN to see the Greens lace up their skates and add a generous dash of Big City Greens comedy to what is sure to be an entertaining game,” said Big City Greens creators and executive producers Shane and Chris Houghton at the exact same time.

The alternate presentation, a first of its kind, will use NHL Edge positioning data (puck and player tracking) to recreate the action on the ice as it happens. Big City Greens characters will skate alongside animated versions of the Capitals and Rangers. The real-time animation will be produced in association with ESPN Edge Innovation Center and NHL EDGE Innovation partners Verizon, Beyond Sports and Silver Spoon.

Lending even more authenticity to the endeavor, ESPN commentators will call the “NHL Big City Green Classic”. Big City Greens voice actors, including the Houghton brothers and Marieve Herington (the voice of Tilly), will also be featured.

More details will be announced closer to the game.

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.

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