AHL Live-A Love and Hate Story

AHL Live, I love you. Through some technical marvels you provide the ability to watch every single AHL game right here in my office. I went to a Falcons game in Manchester, NH earlier this season. The cost of the day for me and my six year old was about $125 (damn rugrat!). In comparison, I watched the November 20th Falcons game from Syracuse for a paltry seven dollars. Ditto the New Year's Eve afternoon tilt from Glens Falls, NY. Seven bucks? No problem! Alas...

AHL Live, I hate you. Yes you deliver on the ability to bring all this hockey into my office. Thank you for that. Once I start to become slightly more critical though, I have issues with the AHL Live platform. Lots of issues.

I'll admit it; sometimes I'm lazy. My original plan for Friday was to make the two and a half hour drive to Glens Falls, NY to catch the afternoon game between the Falcons and the Adirondack Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers). My plan didn't meet with overwhelming family support, so I thought I'd take the easy route, keep the peace and check out the game on AHL Live.

In Thursday night's comments I alluded to a "glass half full, glass half empty" scenario. Using that same school of thought, I can offer "Well, I'm glad I got to see the Falcons game."

Now for a few of the "glass half empty" comments...

I watched the November 20th Springfield-Syracuse game on AHL Live. I later offered a few observations on my experience. Friday's game from the Glens Falls Civic Center featured a Falcons team that has been skating well of late, taking on an Adirondack club who are by all accounts, awful. The Phantoms coming into the game were 30th in the 30 team AHL with a record of 7-25-2-0. The Phantoms are on their third coach of the season, and it seems that new coach Joe Paterson may have finally stopped the bleeding. (After the fact note-Phantoms prevailed 3-2 in a shootout)

Seven bucks for an individual game doesn't sound like much. In fact, I told my wife that I saved us over $100 on Friday. She wasn't quite as enthused when she realized that the money I "saved" was simply money I hadn't spent, by staying home rather than going to Glens Falls. As a consumer, I'm not sure exactly what I deserve in exchange for seven dollars. I do know what I would like in exchange for my seven bucks though.

AHL Live (a partnership between the AHL and Neulion), when compared to either NHL Center Ice or NHL Gamecenter Live, costs more per game for AHL hockey. Presumably, Neulion's business model to the AHL involves, gasp, profits! In my experience this season, the two games I've seen have suffered from a similar one camera shoot. More on that in a moment.

In my opinion, AHL Live doesn't need to offer a lot of bells and whistles to improve the game coverage. They don't need full hi def, they don't need dedicated commentators and analysts. They don't need telestrators. Heck, they don't even need Boomer!

Why not get two more cameras involved? One in either corner at each end of the ice. It doesn't even matter which corner! I'm not looking for perfection here, just better video! Yes, then they will need a real director and a real board for mixing. Instead of bickering about where the money comes from to pay for the additions, let the league, the home club and Neulion all share in the extra cost. Quite frankly, they could even utilize local public access types or local high school or college kids on an internship! If not enough people are buying the games, make the pricing more attractive to the fans of the AHL. why not offer specials or reduce the price? AHL Live's fees across the board are on the high side. In my estimation, individual games should be available for $5 (given current level of coverage). Similar savings should be available on their longer term plans. Hey, why not add the extra two cameras and instead of seven dollars, go to nine or ten for an individual game. If they did so, then maybe their package prices would appear even more attractive.

In their defense, AHL Live has a mid-season package deal in effect. And dare I say, it's looking pretty reasonable! The "Team Pass" is currently $100 for the remainder of the season. Falcons fans would get the remaining 45 games as well as previous games in the AHL Live archive. The remaining away games could be had on the "Away Pass". That one is only $60 for the Falcons remaining 22 road contests. No archive access though.

One similarity between Friday's game and the Syracuse game last month is the maddening one camera coverage. Every shot is a wide shot, until after the fact. Goal scored? Zoom in on the raised stick, back slapping. Fight? Injury? Similar pan and zoom. The video clips below are from the actual AHL Live feed. Tom Sestito was apparently hurt during the second period. After the pan and zoom, we saw him on the ice on all fours. No replays either. Argh!

Some time later, Sestito took the ice for his shift and before the puck dropped squared off with the Phantoms' Zac Renaldo. Renaldo, presumably Sestito's nemesis from the earlier injury time. I say presumably, because with no replay and no mention on the commentary, I'm still not sure what led to the big winger being down on all fours.

I know my perceived value of the Center Ice package. Tons of games, most in HD. The Center Ice package, or GameCenter Live really just tie together all the regionalized NHL feeds from around North America. I realize AHL Live isn't the NHL. After watching my second game of the season on AHL Live and having the same feelings as after the Syracuse game, I've just realized something-my glass must be half empty.

AHL Live, I love you. AHL Live, I hate you.

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