GameCenter Live Makes Hockey a Truly Personal Experience

Sports are meant to be a special, shared experience between a community of like-minded (or sometimes opposing-minded) believers in a team, or just in a sport itself. Typically you watch the games with family members or friends, or you head to a bar. Or you’ll head to the stadium/arena itself to get yourself closer to the whole experience. Sports typically begs for viewing in groups, and some would argue it was meant to be that way.

So what happens if you invent a product that’s the complete opposite of that?

That’s what the NHL’s Game Center Live and GCL app seem to positing. They’re taking what is typically a communal experience and individualizing it. It’s hard to gather at a lap top to watch a game. the iPad app, which you have to use headphones to even listen to, almost demands individuals to be viewing by themselves. Myself, I’ve tried to include my family in GameCenter Live (largely because the cable company wouldn’t let us have it for free despite offering us terrible service, thanks Verizon) but we just can’t sustain viewing on a smaller screen as we can on the ol’ HD TV.

Is it ideal? Perhaps not in some situations. But for the hockey fanatics among us – and I assume if you’re reading this website, you are – Game Center Live, and especially the iPad and PlayStation 3 version – are perfect. Those of us who have to write about the game have one stop access to everything we need to know about it. From detailed stats and 3D shot charts that provide highlights, to both home and away feeds of each game (though the CBC feeds need to be a little more available, as they do in Center Ice) that are automatically in high, if not HD, close to it quality on the iPad screen. If you like hockey more than anyone else in your household does by a wide margin, then Game Center Live is probably for you, considering your family likely doesn’t want you hogging the TV with a Winnipeg-Carolina game on Center Ice while there’s something on.

There have been a few technically flaws. There have been a couple of nights when GCL is completely unavailable on the iPad for seemingly no apparent reason. The music played during commercial breaks is abhorrent, and you are unable to view much intermission programming, including CBC’s Coach’s Corner and The NHL On TSN panel. But these are largely minor complaints for a service that allows your spoiled writer to watch pretty much any non-nationally televised hockey game whenever and wherever I want, all while providing much of the news and stats that NHL.com provides.

Game Center Live is the perfect supplement to the diehard hockey fan. The one who thinks there’s not enough on NHL Network or VERSUS and just wants to watch that lone Sunday or Monday night game when there’s nothing else on. If you love hockey enough to visit Puck the Media on a daily basis, I can heartily endorse it for you. If you’re a more casual fan, having Center Ice on retainer might be more your speed. But for the fan who makes hockey personal already, Game Center Live simply ups the ante.

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About stevelepore
Steve Lepore is the Managing Editor of Puck the Media. His work has been featured in The Hockey News. Feel free to contact him at stevemlepore@gmail.com

10 Responses to GameCenter Live Makes Hockey a Truly Personal Experience

  1. Mike says:

    It’s a very good product-especially if you don’t have a provider that offers NHL Center Ice. Not to mention that you get almost all feeds in HD, including Canadian teams coverage and MSG (which last time I checked DirecTV doesn’t offer in HD) and you can still use this to watch on an HDTV-all you need is a laptop and an HDMI cord to hook up to the TV and you’re all set.

    • paranoidpuck says:

      DirecTV offers MSG in HD. The only games that don’t regularly show up in HD on D* are from TSN, LeafsTV and Rogers Sportsnet and even they show up in HD every now and then. CBC was just added and is supposed to be in HD every week. The spat with FSN will likely mean that HD will go away from them should they pull the nets off.

      GCL is a nice alternative to CI but I like to see the intermission coverage. I can use Slingbox when I’m on the road.

  2. Rhett says:

    I myself am now in my third year of subscribing to GCL, and while I watch via laptop, it is certainly a lifeline for me as I am a diehard HNIC viewer (Canucks/Flames/Oilers/Jets) but do not get CBC on my TV. I would recommend this product as well. It’s the best $20 a month you’ll ever spend, trust me.

  3. Adam B. says:

    Second year GameCenter subscriber here and so far, I’m really disappointed this season. Sometimes the condensed/highlights are marred with buffering issues and drop to just audio. I can understand this happening to live games (it’s happening WAY too often this year), but to archived versions of games? When I’m on my wifi connection?

    The iPhone and iPad app have calendar issues and have displayed the wrong score for an entire day.

    And serious question: how do I watch an entire archived game with the iPad version? If it exists on iPad, I can’t find it.

  4. Adam B. says:

    I should also mention: my issues are not unique. There are two different versions of the app on iTunes – one has a rating of 2 stars after 101 ratings, the other has 2 stars after 781 ratings.

    Watching on a computer is definitely the way to go, but I was really looking forward to watching it on iPhone + iPad this year. So far, GCL has been a disaster on mobile platforms this year.

  5. Before this year I purchased NHL Center Ice via Comcast and for the most part enjoyed it. Post NHL playoffs I cut cable and purchased a roku (~50) for the sole purpose of watching game center. Many more games on HD in fact all games I’ve seen have been in HD, no worrying about setting my recorder and/or worrying about conflicts with other planned recordings. Not to mention the ability to go back and watch games I would have missed like Boston/Carolina in a condensed format. I live in Seattle so no “local” games get blacked out but being so close to the border I used to get CBC and made a point of spending my sunday mornings reviewing the intermissions of the HNIC games + after hours. Most of that content is available on CBC’s website so it isn’t that bad.

    The roku itself has some challenges like the Fast forward and rewind functions but other than that I am extremely happy with my hockey watching.

  6. @John Barr
    John, I watch nhl vault on a roku and sometimes the games real vintage games have trouble loading. Is this a game center problem or my internet? Do you have that problem with vintage games?

  7. nosferatu says:

    Absolutely loving the replay function–you can’t always catch the games you want live (or they overlap), so avoid scores and watch deep into the night. That’s the way to do it.

    Except, when hiding game scores on top of the screen, they still highlight the leading/winning team. Talk about a moronic spoiler; why the hell do they think people want to turn game scores off?

  8. Speaking of moronic spoilers…they also share if the game when into overtime..I.e. it would show “Final – OT” even though you have scores hidden. Kind of a bummer to think you are watching a game that will eventually be tied….so it takes any suspense out of the last 5 minutes of a game.

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