What will the NHL/NBC Sports Social Media Integration Experiment reveal?

The NHL and NBC Sports have announced that they are going to try and further engage their viewers by integrating social media into the TV broadcast of their 2011 Winter Classic hockey game between the Penguins and the Capitals. We get the news from MediaPost.com:

"We're running the social and broadcast integration to test the effectiveness and examine the data," DiLorenzo says. "It should grow our Facebook Fan base, because people must 'like' the page to play. It also will build a window into the event for those who may not be in front of the television."

I'll be interested to see whether they release any analysis of what the data shows and how effective the campaign really is:

"Aside from looking at how people interact in social communities, this campaign will determine how to leverage fans to influence connections from offline to television to Facebook or Twitter," says Eric Vieira, associate director at Rocket XL.

ImitationĀ is the sincerest form of flattery, so if this endeavor is successful, we should all get ready for efforts like this in other sports and shows. It seems like a logical next step in integration, but making sure businesses are able to see the benefit to the bottom line will certainly determine the true impact of this latest experiment.