Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail,
Now Collins has turned his marketing eye to the brooding, chauvinistic beast of Canadian hockey, where Hockey Night in Canada is the No. 1 brand and the NHL logo is fifth or sixth on the list. “We feel like the NHL was undervalued in Canada, there’s more here,” he says. “We have to respect what HNIC means, the way Monday Night Football means in America. But now there’s Football Night in America on Sundays, and it’s the best-rated program on national TV. Beats American Idol, The Voice, everything.”
If Canadian networks hoping to keep the NHL TV contract are listening, Collins is saying that things change.
“I see a lot of parallels between Americans and football and Canadians with hockey,” he says. “CBC wants as many Leafs games on Saturday night, because people watch them. Just the way ABC would have taken Dallas-Washington every week on Monday Night Football.” But this concentration has a downside come playoff time. “If the Leafs aren’t there for CBC, the Canadiens aren’t there for RDS, we can’t have Canadian fans turning off the lights, going to the cottage.
“How we change that is tell more stories, give more balanced coverage of the other teams around the league so people who are interested in that can have it. It’s not a criticism of our current partners. TSN does hockey as well or better than anybody. But you’re watching trade deadline day and they say, ‘Let’s talk about how the seven Canadian clubs are in the Rick Nash sweepstakes.’ I understand it, but as somebody responsible for the shield, it should be a unifying force in Canada, not a bureaucracy in a New York office.”
from SIimon Houpt, Steve Ladurantaye and Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail,
In the United States, TV ratings for hockey are up 50 per cent for the NBC group of channels over this time last year. Viewership is strong in Canada, with some in the broadcasting industry suggesting the very controversy over the spike in cheap-shots and thuggery may be pushing the ratings higher.
On Wednesday, only hours after Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa was carried off the ice on a stretcher following an ugly blindside hit, the NHL’s chief operating officer admitted the league is hearing from its business partners over the rash of suspensions and fines arising out of the on-ice antics, and the ensuing media coverage.
“They’re paying us a lot of money to associate with our brand,” said John Collins, who came to the NHL from the NFL. “So when our brand is under attack in the press on issues as serious as player safety, they want to know that the league is on top of it, and has a plan for dealing with it and hear the league articulate it.”
NEW YORK (December 6, 2011) – During the first quarter of the regular season, the National Hockey League (NHL) introduced a number of new initiatives, experienced record consumption across digital, broadcast and retail platforms while introducing a number of new initiatives and securing a number of agreements with new and existing corporate partners.
“We are continuing to offer new and enhanced ways for our fans to engage, consume and interact with NHL hockey,” said John Collins, NHL chief operating officer. “It is this consistent emphasis on innovation and productive partnerships that has sustained the growth and momentum the League has been experiencing over the past six years.”
The NHL’s SVP of corporate sales and marketing—Keith Wachtel—spoke on a marketing panel this morning. Here are some of his comments via Karl Greenberg of Marketing Daily (MediaPost.com):
“Mobile is where things are taking place,” said Wachtel. “If a person is watching on TV, he’s doing it on iPad, too; he’s on mobile. Or he’s buying and sharing it on Shazam. Our fans are young, tech-savvy high earners.”
He added that the days of big sports leagues letting fans find them are over. “It’s us finding them, because they won’t go to NHL.com; they are more likely to look for NHL content on sites like ESPN,” he said. “So we have had to change our model: If you want our content, we will give it to you because at the end of the day, the platform shouldn’t matter. The younger demographic is always changing where they are, using social, not traditional sites. The question is where are they? You have to find them before pulling them into the brand.”
Also interesting were some points about the nature of NHL fan loyalty and of the realistic potential size of the NHL audience. Wachtel said the goal is not to grow the fan base since hockey has geographic limits other sports don’t (“If you can go outside and play the sport there, we’ll be big there,” he said), but to create the kind of league-level loyalty among fans that other sports enjoy, not just team-level loyalty.
“We are fourth of the big four and our fans are the most passionate of all sports partly because it’s a smaller fan base. But while we have avid fans, most of our fans are tribal.”
From Mac Engel at the Toronto Star:
“I learned a big lesson: It’s not a partnership. It’s their league, and you are going to play when they want,” he said.
Today, Guerin has hindsight and his experience serves as a giant caution to any player who thinks losing a game, much less an entire season, to this lockout is a good idea. His message is simple: Get what you can; start playing; you are not going to win what you think.
“It is not worth it to any of them to burn games or to burn an entire year. Burning a year was ridiculous,” Guerin said. “It wasn’t worth me giving up $9 million a year, or 82 games plus the playoffs, then having a crappy year and being bought out. ... Guys in the NBA making $15 million or however much better think long and hard about this.”
Earlier today the NHL announced a deal which will allow games to be broadcast in the Nordic region of Europe. David Shoalts at the Globe & Mail looks closer at that deal, and provides a bit of background:
The problem started when the NHL, figuring it could make lots more money from European television, did not renew its deal with ESPN America when it expired after last season. The U.S. cable television giant was the only carrier for all European countries.
Instead, the NHL formed a partnership with two companies, Medge Consulting and Advisers Media International. Neither company owns television networks or stations but both were to act as third parties selling the NHL rights in Europe, Africa and the Middle East to a variety of television networks.
This meant the NHL went from a single outlet in those regions, ESPN, to different outlets in almost every country, which also meant negotiating multiple deals. Naturally, the process dragged on and now only the Nordic countries have the games on TV and other European and Russian fans are steaming.
via Slam Sports:
NHL hockey teams need to keep an eye on Canada’s changing demographics, as new immigrants and an aging population boost the popularity of games such as soccer and baseball, the Conference Board of Canada said in a report.
It is the latest in a Conference Board series called Playing in the Big League, which looks at what it takes for a professional sports team to make money.
All professional sports leagues need to be aware of how demographics and consumer tastes are evolving in their markets, the report said.
From Tom Van Riper at Forbes:
Forbes estimates that league wide revenue grew 29% from 2006 to 2010, to a total of $2.93 billion. That trend would put the league on course to meet Commissioner Gary Bettman’s post-lockout goal to surpass $3 billion. Lacking NBA or MLB-type cable money, NHL clubs fuel a big chunk of their growth both at the gate and through a digital strategy that has yielded increasingly popular content on NHL Network, NHL.com and NHL Mobile.
“We felt we needed a halo on top of the local markets,” says John Collins, the NHL’s Chief Operating Officer. Charging $169 for the season to give fans access to any game on any night, the league’s subscription fees and ad sales from its digital business now account for 60% of national revenue (that money secured by the league over and above individual franchise revenue derived locally). “Over the past five years we’ve transformed ourselves from a licensing company into a media company,” says Collins of the NHL’s decision to build out its own media platforms itself instead of simply licensing the rights.
Hockey fans could see modifications around the goal net before the puck is officially dropped on the 2011-12 NHL regular season.
The NHL Board of Governors met in New York on Tuesday and received conditional approval for the use of the verification line; a three-and-a-quarter inch line that sits behind the goalline.
The Board also received conditional approval to use thin mesh along the top of the net and a plastic skirt along the bottom.
From Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo! Sports:
He wasn’t rattling a saber as he said it. He wasn’t banging a fist on the table. He was calmly answering a question with a matter-of-fact statement. Still, with the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association expiring one year from today, he spoke volumes.
“The players made an awful lot of concessions in the last agreement,” NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said over breakfast recently in a Manhattan hotel. “It’s pretty hard to see them being willing to do that again.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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