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An NHL Broadcast Will Look Like A Video Game Tonight, And A Chicken Will Drop The Puck

The March 14 match-up between the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers will be broadcast in a new way that’s never been seen before in the history of the NHL, and it’ll look like a video game. ESPN, Disney, and the NHL have partnered for a new type of broadcast, which is a real hockey game but recreated inside a virtual stadium with 3D animated characters based on the Disney animated series Big City Greens.

How does it work? Player- and puck-tracking data will beam from the site of the game, Madison Square Garden, to create this new type of broadcast that aims to help grow the appeal of the NHL. Check out the video below to get a sneak peek at what the broadcast will look like, including a 3D chicken as a referee.

In addition to actual players like Alexander Ovechkin of the Capitals and Patrick Kane of the Rangers getting turned into 3D animated player models, the ice will be populated with Big City Greens characters. Gramma Alice and her son Bill will play the goalies, while Cricket Green will become a player on the Rangers and Tilly Green will play a Capitals skater.

ESPN’s real human commentators Drew Carter and Kevin Weekes will wear motion-capture suits, with their avatars appearing during the broadcast as 3D characters. The referee will be a chicken. He will drop the puck, fly away, and then magically appear for the next faceoff.

The Big City Greens Classic, as it’s called, will air March 14 at 7 PM ET on ESPN+, Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney+. If this all sounds too weird and overwhelming, the traditional broadcast will air normally on ESPN and ESPN+.

Check out ESPN’s in-depth story about the Big City Greens Classic to see how it all came together.

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