This week’s announcement that Sunday’s Elite Challenge Cup Final between Nottingham Panthers and Cardiff Devils will be aired live on the BBC Sport website and on selected Connected TVs is a huge step for the sport in Britain.
In an ever-changing world where we can consume our media at the click of a button on our laptops and smartphones, the Elite League will be on the front page of the BBC Sport website – a website which receives over six million hits per day.
Britain’s top league regularly attracts around 30,000 fans every weekend and, for many fans like myself, all it takes is a glimpse of the sport to have you hooked on what many consider to be the greatest game in the world.
The BBC have dabbled into the world of ice hockey over the past few years, including featuring games from the 2014 Winter Olympics, but for many it appears to be an area where people believe the sport is often overlooked – especially in the Elite League era.
The league’s media consultant and BBC radio presenter, Seth Bennett, also believes this is a step in the right direction for the sport in Britain.
“I think it’s great – there’s been a lot of hard work that’s gone into this on all sides, but hopefully that will be rewarded on Sunday with a good game and a good final,” said Bennett.
“It’s a chance to put British Ice Hockey out there on a plate for people to consume. It gives a chance for Johnny or Jane sports fan to have a look. Spend ten minutes with us and you might decide that you like it.”
With the decision taken last season to reinvigorate the Challenge Cup by changing to a one-off final, it looks as if this will pay dividends to the Elite League.
There already appears to be a real buzz about the event, and with the prospect of reeling in new fans to the fastest team sport in the world this Sunday looks as if it’s going to be a great one.
This is a step in the right direction and possibly the first of many in regards to having the Elite League featured more often on free-to-air television.
(Image permission: Karl Denham)