The NHL Releases a Series With Wayne Gretzky in an Expansion of Its Original Programming

Snoop Dogg is also working with the organization

Jon Hamm chats with Gretzky in a new NHL series. NHL
Headshot of Sara Jerde

With the Stanley Cup Final going on, the National Hockey League is ramping up its original programming and partnering with stars like Snoop Dogg and Wayne Gretzky to draw in casual fans.

Launching on YouTube and ESPN’s direct-to-consumer streaming service, ESPN+, the NHL aims to provide more content for avid hockey fans and attract others who aren’t necessarily.

Among the additional programming is a new series being unveiled today called The Great One on One with Wayne Gretzky, in which the NHL Hall of Famer and former head coach chats with celebrities, including Jon Hamm, Taylor Kitsch and David Boreanaz. The roughly 10-minute episodes, beginning with the Boreanaz, which will post today and will be available on the NHL’s YouTube channel and across social media platforms.

The NHL says its strategy has already resulted in a cumulative reach of millions and deep engagement. The Snoop videos, for example, saw women watching for longer periods of time over men.

In the series Hockey 101 with Snoop Dogg, the rapper explains hockey terms and traditions in about three-minute episodes on YouTube.

“We wanted the content to be viewed by as many people as possible, where we have the largest congregation of fans,” NHL chief marketing officer and executive vice president Heidi Browning said.

The third season of the docuseries Quest for the Stanley Cup was released on ESPN+ in the U.S. and on YouTube for Canadian fans. The series goes behind the scenes and into locker rooms to give fans broader access.

The NHL’s first expansion team in more than a decade, the Vegas Golden Knights, made it to the Stanley Cup Final and beat the Washington Capitals in Game 1 on Monday. Game 2 will air Wednesday on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET.

“Every year, you can find those story lines, and people start talking about the games,” said NHL chief content officer and executive vice president Steve Mayer. “And it naturally evolves, and everyone is naturally engaged. We knew that we could do things that make them talk even more. While everybody is thinking hockey, they can’t get enough.”

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.