THE ICE hockey Streaming Series has been hailed a great success by Swindon Wildcats’ managing director, Steve Nell.

Wildcats hosted the first competitive ice hockey match in the UK since March on Saturday, November 14, when Milton Keynes Lightning visited the Link Centre.

The series took place amid England’s second national lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning no fans were able to attend any of the round-robin tournament’s six fixtures which also included Sheffield Steeldogs.

The three clubs competed behind closed doors with each match broadcasted live online via TicketCo TV’s pay-per-view live streaming service. It enabled the clubs to stress-test the NIHL’s ‘Return to Play’ protocols and a decision on whether the full season will take place amid COVID-19 restrictions is expected soon.

Fans across the UK watched in their thousands as Sheffield Steeldogs won the tournament following three weekends of competitive action.

Swindon sold 2,603 streaming tickets across both of their home matches. Nell was delighted by the response from Swindon’s loyal fanbase, and now plans to adopt a hybrid approach to ticket sales once the club’s NIHL campaign begins.

“The Streaming Series was a great success,” said Nell. “A lot of work went into getting the games on and being able to connect with our fans again after such a long time off the ice via TicketCo TV’s live streaming service provided everyone at the club with a real boost.

“In terms of the game-day operation, we had 59 people in the building – that included the players and coaching staff from both teams. The Streaming Series took place to prove that we could play in a safe way under COVID-19 protocols, and we managed to achieve that.”

Wildcats are hopeful their NIHL campaign will be able to start in January and it is possible the club will be able to welcome 50 per cent of their capacity audience into their rink for matches.

To supplement for the reduced number of supporters that could be allowed into the Link Centre, the club plans to continue offering its global live pay-per-view streaming service via TicketCo TV.

Nell added: “We’ve learnt from the Streaming Series that we’re able to reach out to a fresh global audience by broadcasting our games directly into fans’ homes. Streaming also allows fans that might not be able to physically attend our games due to health, financial, or transport reasons to still watch matches.

“We’re waiting on more information from the league and government regarding a January re-start, but I hope things will fall into place.”