The curtain came down Sunday on the National Hockey League's 92nd regular season, and from a business perspective it was another one for the record books. Consider these highlights:
· Corporate sponsorship was up 20 percent
· New League partners this season include Geico, Starwood Hotels, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, LG Electronics and Hershey's
· Ad spending on NHL media increased by 37 percent over last season, including the All-Access Pre-game Show for the Stanley Cup Playoffs
· Revenue from big event platforms, led by the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, are up 22 percent over last season
· Unique visitors to NHL.com surpassed last year's record by 32 percent
· NHL.com attracted a single-day record 1.6 million unique visitors on Sunday, April 11 -- besting last season's regular season final day by 54 percent
· NHL Game Center Live subscriptions were up 25 percent
· Sales at SHOP.NHL.com were up 12 percent from last year's record
· Viewership for NBC's Game of the Week telecasts were up 13 percent
· Ratings for exclusive telecasts on Versus were up 29 percent
· NHL Mobile reached 1.6 million page views, an increase of 233 percent over last season
Across the NHL.com Web site, broadband video (including live games), mobile, social media and electronic commerce, the NHL connected with more fans than ever on its digital platforms. In addition, the League experienced its fourth consecutive season of gains on national television, enjoyed the third-highest attendance in League history and earned record retail sales. Revenue from the League's big event platforms, led by the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, is up 22 percent over last season.
As a result of this growing "hockey marketplace," as well as the brand strength of the NHL shield, corporate sponsors are also aligning with the NHL in record numbers in order to reach the League's highly desirable, highly engaged fans, who are younger, more affluent and more tech-savvy than fans of the other major sports leagues. The League signed seven new partner deals, and renewed five others.
"The total global consumption of NHL hockey across all touchpoints has never been stronger," said NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins. "A deeper portfolio of big events and digital products are engaging and activating fans across the globe, which is creating new value for the NHL in the partner, broadcaster and advertising marketplaces. When you add it all up, it was the NHL's best year ever on the business side."
2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic connected with more NHL fans than ever
· The NHL's month-long stay in Boston enabled it to connect with a maximum number of fans in Boston. With the rink assembled for most of December, there were free public skates, a college hockey doubleheader, high school hockey games, plus a sold-out NHL Alumni vs. Celebrities game.
· Demand for tickets to see the Philadelphia Flyers
and Boston Bruins
exceeded 300,000, a 28-percent increase over the 2009 game at Wrigley Field. Attendance for the game was 38,112.
· Corporate marketing partners activated en masse. Investment in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic was up 66 percent with 16 partners spending more than $10 million.
· Consumer products and licensing rode the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic to another all-time sales record. Game-day sales for the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic were up 44 percent from 2009 and 43 percent from 2008. Shop.NHL.com, the world's biggest vendor of NHL Winter Classic merchandise, set another NHL Winter Classic record as revenues climbed 5 percent.
· The event generated more positive media exposure than ever. There were more than 5,200 pieces of Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic coverage on TV, online and in print, a 98 percent increase year-over-year with a value of more than $16.4 million (+152 percent). Media credentials issued for the event were up 10 percent.
· NBC opened its telecast to a NHL Winter Classic-best 3.7 rating and the national rating made it one of the most watched regular season games in 35 years. CBC attracted 72 percent more viewers than it did to the 2009 NHL Winter Classic.
Digital media enabled NHL to connect with fans at a record rate
· Unique visitors (UV) to NHL.com increased 32 percent over last season's record. January 2010 was NHL.com's biggest month of all time with 13.4 million UVs.
· NHL.com attracted a single-day record 1.6 million UVs on Sunday, April 11 -- besting the 1 million UVs on the final day of the 2008-09 regular season by 54 percent
· Compared to last season, NHL.com page views were up 29 percent, video starts were up 46 percent, and articles read were up 46 percent.
· Subscribers to NHL GameCenter LIVE increased 25 percent over last season. In addition, the NHL launched NHL Vault, a growing library of classic games currently featuring nearly 150 digitized, full-length NHL games dating back to the 1960s.
· Page views at NHL Mobile increased 233 percent over last season
· In addition, the NHL recently launched official applications for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as Blackberry devices. In fact, NHL Ice Time 2010 is among the top-five sports apps sold on iTunes in 20 countries outside of North America. NHL.com was also one of the featured launch Web sites for Apple's iPad.
· Having introduced its strategy to market to fans on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter this season, the NHL has grown its addressable audience on these third-party services to 800,000. As a result, the NHL was named to the list of 100 most social brands of 2009 by social media technology leader Vitrue. The League placed 46th, ahead of companies such as JetBlue, Hulu, AT&T, McDonald's, Walmart, Fox News and Verizon.
· This season, the League has expanded its reach by syndicating proprietary NHL content on partner sites. The NHL has formed strategic relationships with partners such as YouTube, Hulu, SB Nation, BleacherReport, Yardbarker and The Hockey News to expand delivery of League video and content.
Corporate marketers leveraged NHL brand and growing demand for NHL hockey
· The League experienced a 20 percent increase in corporate sponsorship revenue compared to last season. Since 2007-08, NHL corporate partners have committed $260 million to license League marks, activate at NHL events, advertise on League media and support NHL rightsholders.
· Advertising on NHL.com and NHL Network has increased 37 percent over last season.
· The NHL has aligned with seven new partner brands this Playoffs season, and renewed agreements with an additional five partners.
· New League partners this season include Geico, Starwood Hotels, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, LG Electronics and Hershey's.
NHL merchandise satisfied all-time high demand from fans
· With the most robust assortment of NHL merchandise available anywhere, sales of NHL merchandise at SHOP.NHL.com increased 12 percent over last season's record figures. NHL Auctions revenue also increased 10 percent on growing demand for unique NHL memorabilia.
· The NHL Powered By Reebok store in New York City continued its strong performance with sales up 27 percent over last season.
· EA Sports' "NHL 10," featuring Patrick Kane
on the cover, achieved double digit percentage growth in an overall flat sports videogame category. Innovations enabling customized game play and worldwide online competitions resulted in a record 23 "Sports Game of the Year" awards over the past two years.
League records 3rd-highest attendance figure in its history
· NHL teams played to nearly 93 percent of arena capacity, marking the League's third-highest regular season attendance figure ever.
· After the Olympic break, with playoff races coming down to the final day coupled with the excitement generated by the Olympics, NHL teams played before an average of 17,486 fans over 309 games (95 percent of arena capacity).
Regular-season television ratings continued three-year upward trend
· NHL ON NBC -- Through eight "Game of the Week" telecasts NBC is averaging a 0.9 household rating, 985,747 households and 1,320,288 viewers. Those figures are up 13 percent, up 4 percent and up 13 percent respectively from last year's to date averages of 0.8 rating, 946,102 households and 1,171,193 viewers.
· NHL ON VERSUS -- Since regaining distribution on DirecTV on March 15th, VERSUS' final four weeks of the 2009-10 regular season averaged a .4 National HH rating and 365,000 viewers which was up 33 percent and 28 percent, respectively, as compared to the final four weeks of the 2008-09 regular season
VERSUS' exclusive game ratings are up 20 percent over last season even without the added distribution of DirecTV subscribers.
· NHL ON U.S. REGIONAL SPORTS NETWORKS -- Fifteen out of 24 (63 percent) U.S. team Regional Sports Networks have ratings even with or up from last year, with 14 (58 percent) showing year over year increases. Chicago (+127 percent), New York - Islanders (+100 percent) and Los Angeles (+67 percent) have had the largest year over year increases.
· NHL ON CBC -- Season to date, Hockey Night In Canada is averaging 1.4 million viewers per telecast, a 40 percent increase over last season.
Non-Hockey Night In Canada on CBC are up 100 percent over last season.
· NHL ON TSN -- Season to Date, the NHL on TSN is averaging 633,000 viewers, up 41 percent over last season.