Hockey Infomercial Spoofs Reality TV

Video-on-demand and pay-per-view network iN DEMAND announced plans to promote its NHL Center Ice hockey television package with a tongue-in-cheek 10-minute infomercial that pokes fun at reality TV.

The infomercial features National Hockey League players Jeremy Roenick and Anson Carter. Titled “Rooming with Roenick,” the show features Roenick and Carter as roommates and a supporting cast that includes former NHL players Glenn Healy and Pat Flatley.

The Ballpark Advertising Agency, Los Angeles, had the show filmed in video in a documentary style that recalls reality TV genre shows such as MTV's “The Real World” and “Road Rules” and CBS' “Survivor.” The show depicts Roenick's travails as he hosts Carter as well as a former high school teammate who unexpectedly moves in with the duo, a fitness trainer who takes away Roenick's cheesecake and a neighbor played by Flatley who invades the house to watch NHL Center Ice.

Interspersed throughout the antics are monologues by the players, who take the chance to snipe at the other roommates, a gimmick used by many reality TV shows.

The show appeals to die-hard hockey fans by showing how watching hockey can interfere with everyday life, said Andrew Shevin, principal/account director with The Ballpark. Roenick, who plays the father figure in the house, tells his roommates “don't even think about it” when they try to leave the dinner table to watch a big play, and later chides them because all they do is “watch hockey all day.”

“This is for the hardcore hockey fan,” Shevin said. “What better than a house full of hockey players?”

Though most of the show is scripted, the players were allowed freedom to add personal touches to give the infomercial more of a reality TV flair.

“We left a lot of it up to ad lib on their part,” said Nicole Wetzold, director of sports marketing for iN DEMAND. “They were hilarious together.”

Every few minutes, the show cuts out to a traditional DRTV spot that offers the NHL Center Ice package, which includes 40 games per week, for $139 for the full hockey season, which is $20 off the regular rate. The call to action is to call a toll-free hotline to order the package.

The show will run everywhere iN DEMAND programming is available on digital cable, including AT&T, Time Warner, Comcast and Cox affiliates representing about 12 million consumers nationwide. It will air during a free preview of NHL Center Ice that will be available Oct. 9-15.

The ads will run on iN DEMAND's “barker” channel, which shows previews of iN DEMAND programming available for purchase, as well as on television programming guide channels hosted by the digital cable affiliates. In addition, when no games are on, the show will loop continuously on NHL Center Ice channels.

The show will run again during a second free preview period scheduled for Jan. 6-12. The offer will be adjusted to reflect a reduced price for a half-season package.

Wetzold said iN DEMAND has no specific sales goal for the campaign but will look for a marked increase in volume to the toll-free hotline while the show is running. Testing of the show may be conducted before the end of September, she said.

The Ballpark also prepared two 30-second and one 60-second DRTV spot — cut-downs from the infomercial — for the campaign. The shorter spots give iN DEMAND's cable partners, who decide in what time period the spots will run, more flexibility in terms of time-slot placement, Shevin said.

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