The FIH, field hockey's governing body, today announced a new playing structure for the sport, to be enacted in time for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which the federation hopes will boost the sport's television appeal.
The FIH said games will switch from two 35-minute halves to four 15-minute quarters, a model that has been tried and implemented in both the Euro Hockey League and the Hockey India League.
It believes the change will "improve the flow and intensity of the game and increase the fan experience and opportunity for game presentation and analysis."
It will be the second successive Olympic Games at which the FIH has introduced changes to improve the spectator and television audience experience.
The London 2012 field hockey competition was played on a blue and pink surface, with a yellow ball, rather than on the traditional green pitch with a white ball. That decision was taken following discussions with broadcasters over how best to visually present the sport.
The FIH has already announced that the blue and pink pitches will make another appearance in Rio in two years' time.
On the amended format, Leandro Negre, the president of the FIH, said: “The decision today demonstrates our commitment to fan engagement. With the additional breaks, fans will have the opportunity to enjoy more replays and be more engaged with the event, whether in the stadium or watching from a far, while hockey commentators will be allowed more time to provide sport analysis between plays."
The new format will enable event organisers and broadcasters to develop more engaging fan experiences, both at the venue, on television and online. With increased opportunities to review highlights, explain the game and add colour to the play, it is hoped that new fans will be drawn to the sport.
The length of a hockey game will be reduced from 70 minutes to 60 minutes although there will be a 40-second time out whenever a penalty corner is awarded and when a goal is scored.
The FIH said this enforced break will allow for on-field team celebration time, video replays and analysis for televised games, as well as additional opportunities to engage fans.
The new regulations will be applied at the upcoming Champions Trophy, World League Round 2, World League Semi-Final and Final, all continental Olympic qualifying events from September 1, as well as the Rio 2016 games.