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Devils & iHeartMedia NY Announce The One Jersey Network

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The New Jersey Devils, the Prudential Center, and iHeartMedia NY announced a partnership to launch The One Jersey Network, which will exclusively air the audio broadcasts of 23 games this season. This post reacts to the news.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at New Jersey Devils
From opening night, the Devils began the One Jersey initiative. It’s now the name of a new digital platform.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, I received a press release from the New Jersey Devils and the Prudential Center to announce a partnership with iHeartMedia New York to launch The One Jersey Network. The initial announcement is that The One Jersey Network is a digital platform with its key feature being audio streams of Devils games that would otherwise not be on 660 AM & 101.9 FM WFAN. That and The One Jersey Network’s first game will be this Sunday, November 6. Here’s the text of the release:

New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center have announced a partnership with iHeartMedia New York to launch The One Jersey Sports and Entertainment Network, a first-of-its-kind digital platform featuring all live regular season Devils hockey games and original Devils and New Jersey entertainment programming. Fans can access The One Jersey Network through the Devils app and via iHeartRadio, iHeartMedia’s all-in-one digital music and live streaming radio service, which is available across 90 unique device platforms spanning in-home entertainment, wearables, gaming, mobile and auto.

Starting with the November 6 Devils vs. Hurricanes game at 6 p.m., The One Jersey Network will exclusively carry 23 Devils games during the 2016-17 regular season featuring rivalry matchups with the New York Rangers (Dec. 11 and Dec. 18), Philadelphia Flyers (Dec. 22, Jan. 21, Mar. 16 and Apr. 4) and the New York Islanders (Apr. 8). All remaining Devils games this season will be simulcast on The One Jersey Network and the Devils’ broadcast radio partner WFAN. A complete radio and digital schedule is listed below. [Excised from this post]

“This is an exciting moment for Devils fans, and sports and entertainment fans across New Jersey, as we debut an innovative platform that will provide access to the team and arena like never before,” said Hugh Weber, President, New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center. “Backed by iHeartMedia’s industry-leading technology and our robust plan for original content, we believe The One Jersey Network will be a must-listen-to provider for New Jersey consumers.”

Original programming on The One Jersey Network will include exclusive live and on-demand content from the Devils and Prudential Center featuring Devils coaches, players, alumni and fans; Devils, sports, entertainment, community and cultural podcasts; and diverse, world-class New Jersey-focused entertainment content from The Rock – the home of New Jersey sports and entertainment. The network will showcase prominent New Jersey personalities, journalists and up-and-coming talent from around the Garden State. A full programming schedule will be announced at a later date.

“We are excited about this new relationship with the Prudential Center and the New Jersey Devils,” said Scott Hopeck, President of New York Region for iHeartMedia. “Through this partnership we are able to provide our listeners local access to New Jersey Devils digital game broadcasts and to exclusive Devils content available whenever and wherever they want it.”

Needless to say, Hugh Weber was not kidding when he said that One Jersey was an initiative per this October 18 post by Andrew Gross at Fire & Ice.

The New Jersey Devils website not only has this release but also a full audio-broadcast schedule for the 2016-17 season. Again, the initial feature of the The One Jersey Network is to broadcast audio feeds of games that otherwise would not be on WFAN. As WFAN airs Giants, Nets, and Islanders games as well as the Devils, some of these feeds would be aired on a different networks (e.g. CBS-AM, Bloomberg). Rather than settle for being on the overflow, the Devils are taking ownership of broadcasting those feeds.

I can appreciate the Devils jumping into digital content beyond social media, the appp, and their website. The Internet is a growing platform for sports broadcasts - video and audio - and it makes sense for the team to get involved instead of relying on traditional means for broadcasting. I look forward to what else the Devils plan to have on The One Jersey Network beyond audio feeds of their games. I’d like to think the Devils Insiders’ Devils Tailgate shows will be a natural fit on the network.

That said, I’m puzzled by this announcement. First, the timing is sudden. The network’s first game is this Sunday’s game in Carolina. I would think they would have made a bigger splash if this was announced just before the season began, or even before the home opener. It would give more of the people who follow the games through the radio more time to get prepared for the switch. Second, 23 games exclusively on The One Jersey Network means that 23 of the Devils’ games this season won’t be on the traditional radio. Sure, you can listen through the Devils’ app and/or through iHeartRadio. If you do not have access to those programs, do/can not want to spend the data streaming either, and/or only have a radio, then it appears that you’re out of luck in terms of following the game. The other games will be on both The One Jersey Network and WFAN, so at least there’s an option for all potential listeners.

However, it’s pretty clear that this partnership signifies an eventual move away from WFAN. Maybe that is for the best in the long run. It’s not that the Devils or hockey has had a big stake or has been a big topic on sports radio in the tri-state area. And I question how popular radio is for game broadcasts anyway. It appears to me that the Devils are banking on The One Jersey Network reaching out to their core audience and their other programming to help grow it to be sustainable to keep it up in place of having games on one of the largest stations in the area. We’ll see if it works out. If so, we could see many more games have their audio broadcast air exclusively on The One Jersey Network.

Lastly, and more lighthearted, the name is going to be shortened to The OJ Network. Yes, it goes with the One Jersey initiative and confirms that it is an initiative. That makes from that perspective. At the same time, I can’t help but think of references to O.J. Simpson.

All the same, I wish the Devils and iHeartMedia luck in this new venture. Hopefully, they make it easy to access, the broadcast quality for that first game (and future games) is good, and that they do add programming surrounding the games. If the content fits, then the fans will commit. (See what I mean about OJ?)

What do you make of the announcement of The One Jersey Network? If you listen to audio broadcasts of games, how do you feel about this move away from WFAN? Will you run to The OJ Network as it begins, or will you wait until there is more programming? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about The One Jersey Network and this partnership in the comments. Thank you for reading.