NBC Sports goes live on Snapchat ahead of NHL 'Winter Classic'

NBC Sports is launching on Snapchat in advance of the NHL’s annual “Winter Classic” on New Year’s Day.

The NBC Sports Snapchat account, which goes live today, will be a behind-the-scenes hub for hockey fans to show how Gillette Stadium is transformed from a football field to an outdoor hockey rink. It will also take viewers into NBC Sports’ production trucks and down to the rink as the broadcaster prepares to televise the event.

On Thursday, NHL analyst and former player Jeremy Roenick will take over the Snapchat account, part of NBC Sports’ ongoing program where athletes and celebrities take over one of its social media accounts. The same day, the Snapchat account will also publish videos and photos from the annual “Fan Fest” held prior to the “Winter Classic” as well as the alumni game between former players of the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. During the game, the account will continue to feature videos and photos from the ice and stands.

“Oftentimes, the angle that we take on the social media side is: What do viewers want from us that they may not be able to get from our league partners, or teams or the athletes themselves?” said Lyndsay Signor, director of social media marketing at NBC Sports.

NBC Sports will use the Snapchat account for NHL and English Premiere League games. The “Winter Classic” will be a test bed to see what might work for its live broadcasts. For instance, if it deems that Jeremy Roenick’s Snapchat takeover was a success, it will do more takeovers with Roenick and other NBC Sports on-air personalities, as well as athletes and celebrities, during future NHL regular season and playoff games.

NBC Sports’ biggest competitor, ESPN, is also on Snapchat as an official Discover partner. Its channel is largely filled with news articles and game highlights, along with some fan content.

NBC Sports isn’t ruling out a Discover launch, especially as it prepares for the Summer Olympics. But for now, it’s interested in testing how Snapchat can drive tune-in and enhance the second-screen aspect of its live TV programming.

While Snapchat is the newest addition, social media plays a key role in how NBC Sports programs for its audience. Its social team includes on-site producers for “Sunday Night Football” and NASCAR, which work alongside the TV production booth to create shoulder content meant to drive interest and tune-in for the broadcast. Social content can range from videos and photos of the stadium site to full social-media takeovers by athletes and NBC Sports on-air personalities in advance of the game.

“We’re tapping everybody who can help fans get access to these areas they otherwise couldn’t,” said Signor.