How the NHL Can Increase Its Fan Base


Coming off the Winter Classic on January 2nd, NHL executives are looking to capitalize on the increased viewership of the novelty game and build on it. The contest had nearly fifty thousand fans in attendance along with a national audience on NBC. The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers provided an entertaining afternoon of action culminating with a penalty shot near the end of regulation.

The league should have a myriad of broadcasts in Spanish. The fastest growing demographic in our country is from Mexico. This has not been ignored by the NHL, as was evidenced by their placement of teams in Southern cities throughout the nation. There is a very passionate fan base for the game, but it is limited in size. Having the broadcasts in Spanish would open the door to those who haven’t been exposed to the game in the past, and it could also bring in a new revenue stream in terms of advertising.

The NHL must market its starts more effectively. The post-concussion symptoms suffered by Sidney Crosby has been crippling for the league. He is much more affable and promotable than Alex Ovechkin. Every time that a star takes the ice, there should be a special graphic on NBC and its cable network-bringing special attention to his presence. The NFL has wagering and fantasy games providing a built-in interest; baseball has tradition on its side. The NHL must create a reason to take interest and following stars is a legitimate possibility.

The intermissions must be shortened. Having thirty-five minutes of dead time in the middle of the game is a death sentence for television. Many viewers tune out and never come back. Resurfacing the ice is the cause of the multiple breaks, but each one could be half the time due to the multiple zambonis at each facility. This would still allow fans on site the ability to go purchase a beverage and use the restroom.

I realize that the league recently signed a long-term deal with NBC for its broadcasting rights, but Fuel TV would have been a viable option. Now that I have your wheels spinning, UFC fans would likely become NHL aficionados if exposed. People who enjoy violence usually do in multiple arenas. The constant hitting on the ice would be attractive to those who watch the action in the octagon on a regular basis.

The NHL Network isn’t in as many homes as the three major sports. This necessitates more of an online presence for hockey. Numerous people looking to avoid exorbitant fees exclusively view programming via their laptops now. Offering games on a web site for a nominal fee would reach the young viewers. They are used to purchasing the isolated songs that they enjoy on Itunes, so this is not a foreign concept to them.

Replaying games unabridged after they take place is appealing. There is nothing worse than getting up in the middle of the night only to find infomercials. An unexpected exciting hockey game in its entirety would do nothing to fight the insomnia.


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