Report Reveals NHL’s Digital Board Ads Could Pose Serious Health Risk To Some Fans

NHL digital board ad glitch


It’s not exactly a secret that professional sports leagues are constantly trying to figure out ways to squeeze as much money as possible out of games. While there is no shortage of ways for those organizations to rake in revenue, advertising has traditionally been their bread and butter.

The NHL certainly isn’t hurting for cash, but it still needs all the help it can get when you consider how it measures up to the rest of North America’s “Big Four.” In recent years, Gary Bettman and Co. have instituted a number of rule changes that have allowed teams to solicit sponsors for the ads that are now plastered on helmets and jerseys across the league, and while most fans haven’t been thrilled with that development, they’ve largely accepted they’re here to stay.

However, the same can’t be said for the new monstrosity viewers have been subjected to since the start of the current season. While the boards that line the rink have been emblazoned with various corporate logos for decades, the NHL opted to take things to a new level when it harnessed the technology that makes it possible to superimpose digital promos over their physical counterparts on television broadcasts.

The rollout has left plenty to be desired, as plenty of hockey fans have taken issue with flashy graphics that distract from the play on the ice as well as a number of glitches that have repeatedly reared their ugly head.

In December, Bettman boldly claimed the league had conducted polls that showed the majority of people actually prefer the new ads—although it’s safe to say that’s not the case with a group of fans who could actually be in serious danger because of them.

CTV News spoke with one man who routinely watches hockey with a young daughter with epilepsy who says he’s become increasingly worried frequent glitches that make the digital signage rapidly flash have the potential to trigger a seizure.

The outlet also shared a tweet from someone who believes the ads caused their son to have multiple seizures, and while that claim should be greeted with skepticism based on its anonymous and unconfirmed nature, CTV also spoke with an expert who said people diagnosed with what is known as “photosensitive epilepsy” could be at risk.

That particular condition is the reason concerts and other events featuring strobe lights as well as movies and television shows that include rapidly flashing images (like a somewhat infamous episode of Pokémon) tend to feature a warning for attendees and viewers who could be put in harm’s way.

At the end of the day, the ad issue may only affect a tiny subset of the general population, but if it can be used to justify banishing them back to the depths from whence they came, I’m all for calling as much attention to it as possible.

Connor O'Toole avatar
Connor Toole is the Deputy Editor at BroBible. He is a New England native who went to Boston College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Frequently described as "freakishly tall," he once used his 6'10" frame to sneak in the NBA Draft and convince people he was a member of the Utah Jazz.