All-access NHL show is coming from the makers of 'Formula 1: Drive to Survive'

The NHL is getting the “Drive to Survive” treatment, with a hockey series from the makers of the popular Formula 1 show coming to Prime Video in the fall

Stephen Whyno
Thursday 06 June 2024 14:37 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


The NHL is getting the “Drive to Survive” treatment, with a hockey series from the makers of the popular Formula 1 show coming to Prime Video in the fall.

After getting players to buy in to the project with Box to Box Films, the league is hoping for the same kind of popularity boost F1 got by bringing in a whole new set of fans who were previously unfamiliar with the sport.

"We have seen what these shows do for a sport in terms of raising the popularity, and we realize any chance we get to grow our sport, we’re going to do it," NHL chief content officer and senior executive VP Steve Mayer said. “It’s something that we feel will put us in front of a whole new audience. I think everybody has seen the effects that ‘Drive to Survive’ had on Formula 1 racing, ‘Full Swing’ has done a lot for golf, and obviously the storytelling that’s involved is unique and very different.”

It’s another step in the league’s evolutionary process showing more player personalities in a game that has forever been defined by teams and not individuals. The series features two players in the Stanley Cup Final — Edmonton's Connor McDavid and Florida's Matthew Tkachuk — along with the likes of Boston's David Pastrnak, Vegas's Jack Eichel, Nashville's Filip Forsberg, Toronto's William Nylander, Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog and the New York Rangers' Jacob Trouba.

Mayer said, with help from agents like Pat Brisson and Judd Moldaver and the NHLPA, there was far more acceptance of the project from players than those of previous generations.

“That’s one of the things we’ve seen in this moment of time: Our players are much more willing, much more open and I feel like, ‘Wow, we got the buy in,’” Mayer said. “(Having) watched ‘Drive to Survive' (and) ‘Full Swing,’ our players actually said, ‘Let’s go’ and they’ve been great.”

Box to Box co-founder and executive producer Paul Martin had never been to a hockey game until last year, knowing only Wayne Gretzky “and they fight a lot” about the sport. His interest was piqued attending regular-season and playoff Los Angeles Kings games, then the Golden Knights' Cup clincher on the Las Vegas strip last June.

This is the company's first foray into hockey after earlier this year starting the process of a series documenting the 2024 Major League Soccer season, which will air on Apple TV.

“It just felt like a really great time for us with no real affiliations to kind of hockey or at that point any real understanding of hockey to kind of just come in see what kind of stories we could tell,” Martin said. “It felt like certainly the right time for us but also maybe the right time for hockey with this new generation of players and new generation of clubs that exist now in the league.”

Acknowledging Formula 1 several years ago was in a place that it needed a spark of sorts that the docuseries provided, Martin said he's not sure if this will transform the NHL or if it even needs transforming. But this has also been a bit of a different process making a show in a sport in which team-first has been engrained forever.

That has led producers and camera operators to think a little differently in crowded locker rooms and other situations.

"I wouldn’t say it’s a huge sea change," Martin said. “Our type of storytelling hinges on individuals being able to drive those kind of narratives, so within the team environment you’re focused on individuals within that team, but you have to be super respectful that it is a team sport.”



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