Marketers using TV, Social Media to Reach NHL Fans as Season Peaks

For hockey fans, April means one thing – the Stanley Cup playoffs.  The playoff season this year has started off well, attracting more TV viewers across markets nationwide. This means more marketers will be looking to buy up ad inventory during the next several weeks.

Early statistics show that networks such as VERSUS reported a 12% increase in the audience over last year.  In specific markets like Washington D.C. , New York and Pittsburgh, more people were tuning in via TV to see how their favorite team is faring. And TV is not the only media format to record gains. The NHL​.com site is reporting significant traffic increases.

By the time the victor skates away with the Stanley Cup trophy in May, the league will have pulled in $2.9 billion in marketing and merchandising-​related revenue. Large national advertisers who signed on as season sponsors this year include MillerCoors. This kind of activity resulted in a 33% increase overall in sponsorship sales this season. Specific events continue to attract attention. This year’s Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic  “sold out of all of its sponsorship opportunities and at the time generated more revenue than any event in NHL history,” according to a report on NHL​.com.

While the sport may not enjoy as large a following as football, hockey fans are a dedicated group with an attractive demographic profile:

  • Between the ages of 18–44: 79%
  • Household incomes exceeding $50,000: 60%
  • College graduate heads the household: 81%
  • Households with children: 63%

This report is positive proof that sports marketing, in general, is recovering nicely after the recession. For the NHL, the new support has come from  a variety of marketers that includes Visa, Energizer and Hershey. The NHL had an even tougher challenge to face in returning from the lockout during 2004–2005 which eroded the fan base.  As marketing support rises next year, the league will prove it knows how to perform a hat-​trick, on and off the ice.

[Sources: NHL sees TV, digital gains on day one of Cup Playoffs. Nhl​.com. 14 Apr. 2011. Web. 19 Apr. 2011; National Hockey League Jumbotron Network. Sportsmedia​.com. Web.  19 Apr. 2011; Szeluga, Robert. NHL Leading the Way with Sponsorship Revenue. The Stillman Exchange​.com. 7 Dec. 2010. Web. 19 Apr. 2011]


Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.