The NHL's strategy of driving growth through big events and digital media continued to pay dividends with double-digit increases in advertising and sponsorship revenue; a record-breaking Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic; viewership increases on broadcast and cable television; traffic increases on NHL.com and its mobile products; growth in sales of licensed product; attendance increases; and continued traction via the League's social media platforms. Local market television ratings in markets such as Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Washington showed substantial growth as well.
NHL fans continued to demonstrate an insatiable appetite for NHL content while the League has grown its product portfolio and enhanced existing platforms in an effort to "superserve" its audience.
"The League is extremely well positioned," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "The vital signs are good and we anticipate continued growth and momentum. The strong numbers are a testament to a great product on the ice, a growing fan base that loves our game, and a strategy that provided a path for corporate America to reach that fan base."
Below are some of the business highlights from the first half of the season:
League Bucks Economy, Showing Impressive Sponsorship Growth
- The NHL's strategy to leverage big events to drive corporate marketing investments in the League has paid dividends with record corporate spending on the sport. The NHL has achieved a 32 percent increase in sponsorship and marketing revenue.
- The League added Discover Card as the presenting sponsor of this year's All-Star Game, the first All-Star Game presenting sponsor in more than a decade. The League has added or renewed deals with blue chip corporate partners such as McDonald's, Geico, Starwood Hotels, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Cisco, Honda, Bridgestone, Discover Card, Verizon, LG Electronics, Tim Hortons and Hershey's Canada.
- Advertising on NHL.com and NHL Network has increased by 55 percent.
NBC's broadcast of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic was the most-viewed NHL regular season game in 36 years with an average of 4.5 million watching in primetime as the Washington Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins at sold out Heinz Field. The 4.5 million viewership figure was up 22% over last year's game played at Fenway Park (3.7 million).
- VERSUS is averaging 301,000 viewers (through 29 telecasts), up 6% over last year (284,000 viewers)
- VERSUS averaged 750,000 viewers for the Pittsburgh Penguins/Philadelphia Flyers telecast on Tuesday, December 14, making it the most-watched regular-season game in network history and surpassing the previous high set by the same two teams in this year's season-opener (730,000 viewers). The telecast was the most-watched NHL regular-season game on cable in seven years.
- CBC's Hockey Night in Canada Game 1 is averaging 1.938 million (24 telecasts), up 4% from last season's average of 1.863 million
- CBC's Hockey Night in Canada Game 2 is averaging 1.017 million (13 telecasts), up 8% from last season's average of 942,000
- Overall, CBC's Hockey Night in Canada is averaging 1.5 million (24 telecasts), up 7% from last season's average of 1.4 million viewers
- TSN's weekly Wednesday Night Hockey are averaging 864,000 viewers (14 telecasts), up 21% from last season (712,000 viewers).
- Overall through 36 telecasts, TSN is averaging 748,000 viewers, an increase of 5% over last season (714,000 viewers)
TOP REGIONAL SPORTS NETWORKS
1. Los Angeles on FS-W : +67%
2. St. Louis on FS-MW: +52%
3. Tampa Bay on SUN: +33%
4. Boston on NESN: +32%
5. Washington on CSN-DC: +31%
- Unique Visitors have increased 25% over last year; video starts, a key metric for the NHL's growing online advertising marketplace, are up 128%
- Average monthly unique visitors to NHL.com plus all 30 NHL team Web sites has increased to a record 21.2 million
NHL GameCenter LIVE (BROADBAND)
- Subscriptions to the League's live streaming games service are up 24% over last year
- Gross sales on Shop.NHL.com are up 12%
- Shop.NHL.Com experienced its second-highest grossing sales day ever on Black Friday with a remarkable 153 percent increase for the day over 2009
- There have been more than 1 million global mobile downloads this year as the League has introduced 20 new products to support the widest range of devices and manufacturers
- In the US and Canada, NHL GameCenter is the #1 ranked sports app overall
- "Likes" on the NHL Facebook page are up 633% to nearly 1.3 million
- The League's Twitter followers have increased 133% to 483,000
- Facebook is now the No. 1 source of traffic referrals to NHL.com (excluding search engines)
- Twitter referrals to NHL.com are up 271%
- The NHL Winter Classic peaked at No. 6 in global trending on Twitter on New Year's Day
- NHL teams are playing to more than 92 percent capacity, up over last year's total which was the third- best in NHL history.
On the ice, dramatic team turnarounds, stellar individual performances, remarkable hot streaks and its hallmark competitive balance have lit up the 2010-11 NHL regular season, at the season's midpoint. They all set the table for a thrilling stretch run of a season in which every game matters, every point counts.
Competitive First Half Sets Stage For Exciting Finish
- Presidents' Trophy: Top seven clubs separated by five points
- Division title races: Five of six division leaders are ahead by five points or fewer
- Playoff races: 25 of 30 teams are within five points of a playoff berth
- Back in the playoffs? Five teams who didn't make the playoffs last season are currently 'above the line', including the Southeast Division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning and Pacific Division-leading Dallas Stars. They are joined by the Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers and New York Rangers.
- Five other non-playoff clubs in 2009-10, the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues, are within five points of a post-season berth.
New Partnerships Increase Distribution, Reach
For the 2010-11 season, the NHL has introduced new strategic partnerships and projects to expand its reach and distribution. The NHL and HBO launched a critically-acclaimed new series leading into the NHL's New Year's Day outdoor game, "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic," a four-episode all-access series which chronicles the two fierce rivals. The NHL also became the first professional sports league with a dedicated presence on Foursquare, one of the leading social media innovators. And the League has partnered with Stan Lee on The Guardian Project, a new franchise from the legendary comic book creator that will incorporate the identities of all 30 NHL teams into superheroes. Additionally, the NHL announced a broad-based partnership renewal with Cisco across multiple NHL platforms and events and involving consumer electronics and technology infrastructure.
2009-10 NHL Business: Best Year on Record
Despite difficult global economic conditions, in 2009-10 the NHL posted its fourth-consecutive year of strong business growth, engaging with a record number of fans. The League generated record television ratings during the playoffs, saw triple digit increases across its digital platforms, added sponsors and experienced a 66 percent increase in advertising and sponsorship revenue, set merchandising sales records during the Stanley Cup Final and played to 102 percent of arena capacity for the postseason.