NBC Sports Chicago to Air First-Ever Animated Real-Time Local Sports Telecast

 NBC Sports Chicago and Chicago Blackhawks alternative animated production of a live NHL game.
NBC Sports Chicago and Chicago Blackhawks alternative animated production of a live NHL game.

The Chicago Blackhawks and NBC Sports Chicago have announced a collaboration with the NHL to bring fans the first-ever local animated real-time sports telecast.

The partnership will create an alternate animated presentation airing on NBC Sports Chicago Plus (NBCSCH+) as the Chicago Blackhawks face off against the Dallas Stars on Saturday, April 6 at 2:30 p.m. (CT).

Last year, ESPN teamed up with the Disney Channel and the National Hockey League to present a first-of-its-kind live volumetric animation presentation of an actual live NHL hockey game to a national audience. The upcoming Blackhawks game would be the first time this has been done for a local game, NBC Sports Chicago said.

The animations are part of a NHL effort to bring the sports to younger audiences.

Geared toward families, the presentation will feature real-time volumetric animation of the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars players and include a celebration of ‘Tommy Hawk’s Birthday Party’ with some surprise visits from Tommy's friends.

"Every day, we're challenging ourselves to bring hockey to fans in new ways, and we're incredibly excited to bring the first-ever local animated game to kids across Chicagoland and beyond in partnership with NBC Sports Chicago and the NHL," said Jaime Faulkner, president of business operations for the Chicago Blackhawks. “It’s our highest priority to introduce Blackhawks fandom to our youngest generation, and this passion project of ours is fueled by our ongoing efforts to share the game we love with families in ways that connect with their daily lives."

The animated presentation on NBCSCH+ will include Chris Vosters as play-by-play announcer and in-game analysis provided by Dominic Moore with Adam Burish and Tony Granato providing studio coverage for all ages during intermissions.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to combine the talents at NBC Sports Chicago, the Chicago Blackhawks and the NHL to produce this first-ever, local, animated pro game telecast,” said John Schippman, vice president of sports content, NBCUniversal Local Chicago. “We’re excited and proud to be delivering a new and fun way for families and younger fans to experience this wonderful sport like never before.”

Building upon the League’s recent national animated telecast successes, this first-of-its-kind local animated presentation will leverage NHL EDGE positional data (NHL Puck and Player tracking) and Hawk-Eye Innovations optical tracking to recreate the action on the ice as it is happening.

It will also feature Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk with some of his friends within a fun environment with the United Center as a backdrop. The real-time animated program will also be produced in association with NHL innovation partner Beyond Sports.

NBC Sports Chicago will also carry the traditional game telecast featuring WGN Radio 720’s John Wiedeman handling play-by-play duties with NBC Sports Chicago’s Darren Pang providing expert game analysis.