The 2017-18 NFL season is over. But the offseason has just begun as the Pro Football Hall of Fame has launched a streaming channel that aims to bring the rich history and present of the sport to fans of the sport.
Last Friday, the Hall of Fame channel went live with its online vault of on-demand videos plus more than 380 hours of programming including live events, movies and a 15-hour documentary tied to the league's upcoming centennial celebration. Access to the new channel can be found here.
The launch of the sport-focused video channel appears to be the latest development in an emerging trend whereby content owners and creators look to build a larger following and wider revenue river (commercials/sponsors) using their prized asset: programming.
Though we've seen event-specific channels such as the Patriots' Not Done Network and the Olympics Channel the Pro Football Hall of Fame Channel goes is an ongoing offering and will feature roughly 50 years of football history on all pro football. The channel will showcase plenty of upcoming events such as the Hall of Fame enshrinements in early August.
"The creation of the Hall of Fame Channel is historic for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as we will now provide greater access to content built around our important Mission to 'Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promotes its Values and Celebrate Excellence Everywhere,'" stated Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker, in prepared comments last week.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is part of a sweeping $800 million HOF Village project that is supersizing what was once little more than the original hall. The expansive complex of fields and buildings is designed to provide fans a multi-purpose football destination year-round.
To further this effort, the Hall of Fame does not charge fans for its content-rich channel. "This wasn't a big cost investment for us and we didn't want to make it one for fans," explained Chad Reese, director of IT for the HOF. Viewing the channel's content does not require a special app, he added.
The Hall of Fame Channel is the first step in the group's leveraging of its vast content libraries with much of the content not having yet seen the light of day. "It's a beginning with the plan for the village calling for a full TV studio," said Reese.
In the meantime, he said, the channel makes use of Livestream, which is best described as a live video streaming system that allows customers like the HOF broadcast video using a camera and a laptop over the web. This inexpensive approach to streaming has been widely embraced since the New York-based Livestream was founded in 2007.
Free for All
Reese emphasized that there's no charge for fans to view the Hall of Fame Channel and is convinced that its programming will prove magnetic and keep football fans of all ages coming back for more.
Living the Stream
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has long since been sold on the power of streaming content. That tracks with fan audience viewing trends. On Tuesday, it was disclosed that though TV ratings for Super Bowl 52 were down as compared with last year, but that streaming of the big game this past Sunday drew the largest on Super Bowl audience ever.
The HOF Channel says it will let fans program one day of the week, "sending their videos and photos of anything football that will be an integral part of the channel. We are proud to bring our mission and values to the millions who love the Hall and what it stands for but can't make the trip.
Fans can now access a vast amount of content produced by the Hall of Fame:
- Behind-the-scenes footage of the annual Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls
- Exclusive interviews with Hall of Famers and other NFL Legends
- Programming from the Hall's events such as the Heart of a Hall of Famer, US Army Award for Excellence ceremonies, Ford Hometown Hall of Famer presentations, and the Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence ceremonies.
- Enshrinement speeches, the recent World Youth Football Championships, original documentaries and feature films like Gleason, Greater, and'85 Bears: The Greatest Team in Football History.
Vast Content Libraries
Though some may think the NFL has amassed the most NFL content possible, don't forget the Pro Football Hall of Fame, an asset that's pulling together content and items of all kinds for something like 50 years. And in recent years, it has been creating its own.
Over the past two years, Hall of Fame Productions "has produced its own live television shows, social media content, exclusive interviews and access to a collection of six million photos and videos and 40 million documents found in our archives, to give fans of America's most popular game a view of the Game like never before."
The production unit was off to the races in a large way last weekend, producing 30 hours of programming at Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis including Baker's "Knock on the Door" when he lets the Class of 2018 know they have been elected to the Hall.
The Hall of Fame Channel also delivered plenty of captivating content during its first days of existence. They included a live stream of the Ford Chalk Talk with Terry Bradshaw and John Randle on Saturday; and "Measurement Monday," the orientation for the Class of 2018 when the newly elected members are fitted for the Hall of Fame Gold Jacket, Bronzed Bust and the Ring of Excellence.
Beyond Pro Football Content
The Channel - according to the PFHOF - will add 20 hours of live event programming including;
- The World Youth Football Championships
- The 7 x 7 National and Youth Championships
- Twenty U.S. Army Award for Excellence presentations (one of the highest honors for high school students)
- Live cut-ins from the Hall of Fame on Day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft
- The first ever National College Football Signing Day at the Hall on December 17th.
The Bottom Line
Perhaps the best thing the new Pro Football Hall of Fame Channel has going for it is its first focus on the history and celebration of the sport, rather than showing live and/or on-demand NFL games.
The bigger and better Hall of Fame in Canton will likely serve as more than just a destination for gridiron fans, but also as a launch pad for more and different programming for enjoyment at home and on the go made possible by the latest technologies.
Tune in…and stay tuned!
Bob Wallace is a technology journalist with over 30 years of experience explaining how new services, apps, consumer electronic devices and video sources are reshaping the wide world of sports. Wallace has specific expertise in explaining developments at the intersection of sports and technology. He's the Founder of Fast Forward Thinking LLC.