Of the big four sports in the USA, the NFL dominates things, and the NHL, NBA, and MLB are left picking up whatever they can behind football. The NHL is growing and in the short term, the goal for the league has to be to become the true second sport in America, ahead of the NBA and MLB. A new TV deal with ESPN and Turner Sports will certainly help that, and the league also needs to look at alternative options for getting in front of people who may not automatically turn to hockey.
The focus needs to be global, not just in the USA, so look for the league to branch out elsewhere, and try to find new fans. Creating licensed games is one way to do that, so working to get the NHL licensed computer game into more homes is an indirect way of promoting the league. Other forms of gaming may help, to attract people who are not traditional sports fans. This could be something like casino gaming, in a way to get in front of gamers, as opposed to sports fans. An NHL licensed casino game, either based on teams or star players that can be played in online casino Canada
or elsewhere around the world would be a similar kind of alternative and indirect marketing tool like the NHL computer game.
Fans are watching the sport, but more are out there. The new TV deals that have been signed over the past few months are something for the league to be proud of, and they need to show their product off on those. TV companies signing the deals clearly think something of the NHL, the two new deals are worth $1 billion to the league, this is something they need to utilize fully.
Does the NHL Need to Do More Abroad?
We are seeing signs of improvement in the USA, with encouraging viewing figures
from the early nationally televised games this season. That is great, but if the NHL wants to move to the next level, then they need to do more abroad, to build up a fan base in multiple countries, not just at home.
One of those games to be televised on the second night of the season was the Colorado Avalanche, who won 4-2 against Chicago
in a game that was televised nationally on TNT. While they have local fans, like many other NHL teams, they have several international stars, which should be target markets for the NHL. Players like Gabriel Landeskog from Sweden and Mikko Rantanen from Finland are idolized in their home nations, as well as in Colorado.
Linking up with these countries and giving them an option to watch, enjoy and love the stars that were born in their country is the ideal starting point for taking the game to the next level around the world.
The gaming angle is something to look at again. The easiest comparison to make is with the FIFA game, a brilliant representation of soccer around the world. In 2021, FIFA continued to break sales milestones
by reaching new countries and growing further in the countries that are already crazy about soccer.
Gaming remains a great way for people to find and connect with new things, the NHL needs to try and push their game as much as possible so they can tap into this. Having success to the same degree as FIFA is unlikely to ever happen, but certainly, more can be done.
How are Teams Like the Colorado Avalanche Growing Their Influence?
The biggest way in which the Avs are growing their influence right now is certainly with their social media channels. If you follow them on socials such as Twitter, Facebook, and others, then you will see that the team social media team is very active.
On top of this, they also make a huge effort to talk to their fans who Tweet them, either on off-days or even during games. Having great social media is key to building a relationship
up, gaining trust, and getting people to think about the Avs, even when they are not interested in hockey and just going about their daily routine.
Again, as we have spoken about the NHL looking to go around the world, the fact that the Avs do a lot on social media means they are just as likely to be speaking to fans in the UK as they are in the USA. The connection created, however strong and wherever it goes around the world, is key to keeping fans engaged, happy with the team, and wanting more from them.
If the NHL wanted to reach out to fans more and create some social media engagement then employing a team of social media people like those who deal with individual team accounts would be a good idea. The Avs have shown this works, fans love what the team does on social media and if the NHL replicated it, fans would eventually love what the league did on social media.
The Consumption of Sports on Mobile
The way in which the world is changing means that more and more people are consuming sports on their mobile phones. This means that people are streaming games, rather than watching them on traditional TV broadcasts. Couple this with the social media interactions that we have just spoken about, and considering social media is a big part of mobile interaction, this is the link and where the work on social channels could help.
People with mobile phones can get connected to the teams in the NHL, and the league itself, via their social channels. The same device can give them a way to stream games and get involved further, so if they receive good interaction and enjoy what they see, they are more likely to tune in when there is a game on next.
A social strategy and mobile viewing together could well prove to be the linkup that the league needs to work on.