ESPN-STAR Sports, which has the rights of marketing, producing and broadcasting the Premier Hockey League (PHL) for a period of 10 years, has brought in many innovations in next year’s tournament starting from January 5 to February 1, 2006.
For the first time in the history of hockey, third umpires will be introduced and special mikes will be used for on-field umpires to get a better idea of their decisions.
“After pioneering many innovations in cricket, we are on the verge of taking hockey broadcast to the next level. We realise that there is a strong need to make the game of hockey more and more viewer-friendly, though it is not an easy task as hockey is a fast paced game. More often than not, viewers are not able to comprehend why a particular decision was given by the referee. Therefore, we have decided to give special mobile mikes for the on-field umpires. These mikes will take the hockey viewing experience to a new high as the followers of the game will understand why a particular decision was given by the referee. The introduction of third umpire, mikes will ensure that our broadcast touches a completely different level. An expert panel of commentators are being finanlised,” said said Mr R.C. Venkateish, Managing Director, ESPN.
The schedule of the league has also been modified. The matches will now start at 7 pm and last till 8.15 pm. Like last year, each game will have four quarters of 17 minutes and 30 seconds each, instead of the two halves.
Maurits Hendriks, the incumbent coach of the Champions Trophy winning Spanish team and consultant to PHL said, “PHL is a tribute to the growth of hockey. The four quarters format of PHL may soon become a norm. In addition to the third umpires, we are also allowing players to play above the shoulder for the time.”