Many non-hockey fans still see the sport as something for rough and tumble rednecks, a game played on iced-over ponds in rural areas and more about fighting than athleticism. This perception is obviously nonsense. Most NHL teams are based in major cities, it’s a fast-paced game that requires an amazing level of athletic talent from its players and the fans are no more aggressive than the fans of any other sport. Yes, a fight will still break out on the ice from time to time, but that’s part of the fun.
One of the potential reasons why people who don’t know that much about hockey may not have the best opinion of the sport is that the production values of NHL games have lagged behind those of the NFL, MLB and NBA for decades. That is beginning to change, but there is still some catching up to do.
Hockey viewership has fluctuated in recent years. After a serious drop in viewers in 2020, the NHL has rebounded and viewership is the highest it has been in years. Compared to the other major sports leagues, particularly the NFL, these numbers are still fairly low.
One way that the NHL can work to draw in new fans and keep existing fans entertained is to increase the production values of televised games. This will draw in new fans who have become accustomed to the spectacle of the big NFL games. One of the easiest ways for the NHL to do this without compromising its financial position would be to develop sponsorship deals with a wider range of companies, including iGaming companies.
The top online casino for real money sites may want to consider an NHL sponsorship in order to maintain their position and build on the advertising potential they have already established in Europe. It’s a competitive industry and being the best isn’t enough if you don’t have name recognition.
Let’s examine how things currently stand and how they could develop.
Advertising and the NHL
Unlike most other major professional sports leagues around the world, the NHL has always managed to avoid turning the players’ jerseys into billboards for their sponsors. This has helped the sport to maintain a level of integrity that isn’t matched by many others. It also, unfortunately, limited the amount sponsors were willing to pay. If they’re not getting constant advertising during a game, it’s much harder for a company to justify a huge financial outlay to investors and the board.
For the 2021-22 season, that has finally changed. The jerseys still remain untouched by advertising, however sponsoring companies can choose to have a sticker with their logo affixed to the players’ helmets. Whether this is simply a response to the economic crisis the Covid-19 pandemic has caused or if it’s the start of a move towards wider advertising at the games and on the players remains to be seen.
In England, the rise of football sponsorships by iGaming companies has been a great way for smaller teams to remain competitive even when they don’t have the same budgets as the teams owned by obscenely wealthy individuals or organizations. iGaming has so far proven to be a consistent industry, so teams can rely on these sponsors.
Online casinos are one of the two major forms of iGaming that have started sponsoring sports teams. The other is sports betting companies. The NHL has recently agreed to sponsorship deals with several of the biggest names in iGaming in the United States. These are BetMGM, Betway, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel and PointsBet.
There have been some concerns raised about having these types of sponsors. Since advertising for sports betting companies during games is still illegal in the United States, the major argument that children watching the games will be exposed to sports betting doesn’t have any merit.
In reality, sports betting is an insanely popular pastime around the world. Americans are just a little bit late to the game. It is also a very, very lucrative industry. As it expands in the United States, it is only going to continue to bring in higher revenues.
All of this means that having iGaming sponsors gives the NHL more money to invest in making the games as enjoyable as possible for fans. Having the resources to increase production values will lead to increased viewership and hockey will be able to grow in popularity across the country. The financial stability that iGaming sponsors can provide will most likely play a big part in the future of hockey across North America.