In an impressive effort to merge the ‘children’ and ‘hockey enthusiast’ demographics, Disney Channel will broadcast a real-time volumetric animated NHL game with players and teams modeled after characters from Disney’s animated comedy ‘Big City Greens,’ airing March 14.
It’s never too early to become a hockey fan! ESPN, Disney Channel, and the NHL are teaming up to bring fans the NHL Big City Greens Classic, the first-ever live, real-time volumetric animated NHL game telecast for the upcoming Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers match. The alternate presentation will feature players and teams modeled after characters from Disney’s animated comedy Big City Greens.
Watch the teaser for NHL Big City Greens Classic now:
"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."
The trailblazing alternate presentation will leverage NHL Edge positioning data (puck and player tracking) to recreate the action on the ice as it is happening while Big City Greens characters skate alongside animated versions of the NHL players. 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.
ESPN commentators will call the action for the NHL Big City Greens Classic, and Big City Greens talent, including brothers Chris and Shane Houghton and Marieve Herington (the voice of Tilly), will also be featured in the presentation. More details regarding the production will be announced closer to the game.
"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 the Houghton brothers.
The original series Big City Greens was created and executive produced by the Houghton brothers, and follows mischievous and optimistic 10-year-old Cricket Green, who moves from the country to the big city with his wildly out-of-place family — older sister Tilly, father Bill and Gramma Alice. The series is influenced by the Houghton's childhood in the small rural town of St. Johns, Michigan, with locations and characters inspired by their real-life family members and townsfolk, including their experiences of departing rural farmland for college in big cities.
ESPN+, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney+ will present the live animated telecast on March 14 at 7 p.m. EDT, while the main telecast will be available on ESPN and ESPN+.