Bristow Global Media unveils first TV series commission

Julie Bristow has returned to familiar ground, the NHL, as she produces a seven-part documentary series about star hockey players for the CBC and NBC Sports Network.
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As the CBC heads into contract renewal talks for Hockey Night in Canada, are doc series accompanying live events the ace in the hole to sway the NHL to reup with the public broadcaster?

That could well depend on Bristow Global Media, the newly-launched production shingle run by former CBC programming exec Julie Bristow,  and its first commission, a companion TV show to a growing slew of outdoor NHL games this season.

“It’s been an evolution for hockey as a game, in some cases following in the footsteps of football and basketball, with the idea that the guys that play the sport, who are stars in their own right, can be involved in how you broaden the audience base for this sport,” Bristow tells Playback.

NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other will be a seven-part all-access doc series on top NHL players to be produced by Bristow.

And it comes with an impressive pedigree, as Bristow teams up with former HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, who will executive produce for the NHL.

The doc series, sponsored by Coors Light, will air on the CBC and NBC Sports Network stateside as Bristow’s crews and cameras follow around two dozen top NHL players.

Bristow will be looking for sticky storylines as NHL stars play in the 2014 Coors Light NHL stadium series, for their national teams at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, and back with their NHL teams during the Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic.

NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other will bow on the NBC Sports Network on Jan. 22, and premiere a day later on the CBC.

To secure key access to star players, Bristow has the cooperation of the NHL, which is using companion TV shows like its 24/7 series to showcase its star players, and the NHL Players Association.

“The NHL, as it continues to roll out new outdoor hockey games this season, recognizes an insatiable appetite by fans and viewers to see more of the field of play and their favorite players on it,” Bristow says.

“Julie Bristow and Ross Greenburg are accomplished storytellers who can weave a compelling narrative through seven episodes by following our top players and highlighting the subplots and storylines that are sure to emerge,”NHL COO John Collins said Monday in a statement as the doc series was unveiled in New York City.

“The access our clubs and players are generously providing is what will make this a great series,” Collins added.

Bristow knows the NHL well, having overseen production of Hockey Night in Canada while with the broadcaster.

Players expected to be featured in the series include Sidney Crosby of the Penguins, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks, brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin of the Canucks, and John Tavares of the Islanders.

Bristow said the series will benefit from following players skate alongside teammates in outdoor games at Yankee Stadium in New York and Dodger Stadium in New York, before lacing up to compete against one another at the Winter Games in Sochi.

Rogers Media’s Sports channel, which is already on board to air the third season of the NHL’s 24/7 doc series, will also re-broadcast NHL Revealed after debuts on the CBC.