Your client scoring this winter at NHL games
Hockey delivers an upscale, young audience attractive to advertisers
January 30, 2017
There are a number of opportunities for advertisers of all sizes to get in front of hockey fans at NHL games.
This could include larger national advertisers sponsoring big events such as the All-Star Game or Winter Classic outdoor game. Or it could be a smaller company supporting an individual team at the local arena.
Options at NHL games include ads on the boards around the rink, ads on scoreboards and in game programs, interactive booths and displays in arena concourses, and on-ice promotions during stoppages in play.
Why choose the NHL? Fans have a high median household income, which means money to spend on advertisers’ goods. Plus, many of them are young.
To find out how to get your client at NHL games, read on.
This is one in a Media Life series on buying out-of-home venues. They appear weekly.
Advertising and sponsorship at NHL games.
The NHL handles league-wide sponsorships and also handles ads on TV-visible dasher boards for nationally televised games. Teams make their own advertising and sponsorship deals.
How it works
Anyone who has watches hockey knows the most visible form of advertising at NHL games is on the boards that surround the ice. The boards are clearly visible to people watching TV broadcasts, as well as to fans in the stands.
Advertisers can also paint their logo on the actual ice surface. This option is usually reserved for teams’ top-level sponsors.
The big advantage of ads on the boards and on the ice is they’re also clearly visible on TV. This can add millions of eyeballs for a nationally televised game. The NHL controls TV-visible inventory on the boards for games that are televised nationwide.
In addition to ads on the boards and on the ice, NHL games have similar ad and sponsorship opportunities available at most pro sporting events. This includes ads in game programs, signage in arena concourses and restrooms, static and video ads on the scoreboard and announcements over the PA system.
Sponsors can also set up booths and displays in arena concourses, where they can interact with fans. For example, the online shoe retailer Zappos set up a booth offering free shoe shining at New York Islanders games.
There are NHL teams in Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Miami, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa, Toronto, Raleigh, Columbus, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Anaheim, Phoenix, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, St. Paul, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.
A team based in Las Vegas is set to join the league in the 2017-18 season.
So far this season, NHL teams have averaged between 21,669 and 11,933 fans per game.
The top five teams for attendance this season are Chicago (21,669), Montreal (21,288), Toronto (20,082), Detroit (20,027) and St. Louis (19,670).
On the flip side, the five teams with the lowest attendance this season are New Jersey (14,721), Florida (14,680), New York Islanders (12,828), Arizona (12,662) and Carolina (11,933).
How it is measured
Game attendance is tracked, and TV ratings can be used to estimate additional impressions for televised games.
What product categories work well
Frequent NHL advertisers and sponsors include auto, credit cards, beer, auto parts, fast food, car rentals, auto insurance, snack foods and soft drinks.
NHL fans have a mean household income of $104,000, the highest among the four major pro sports. Also, 33 percent of hockey fans are age 18-34, compared to 32 percent for the NFL, 30 percent for the NBA and 29 percent for Major League Baseball.
Making the buy
Top league and team sponsors typically have season-long or multi-season deals in place. Lead time for smaller advertisers at single games is typically at least four weeks, but this can vary based on available inventory.
Pricing also varies widely. Smaller local advertisers can have a presence in one market for five figures, while top-level league-wide sponsors spend millions annually.
Who’s already at NHL games
In addition to team advertisers and sponsors, the NHL’s sponsors are categorizes into three groups: USA, Canada and all of North America.
USA sponsors include McDonald’s, Geico, Dunkin’ Donuts and Discover. Canada sponsors include Visa, Tim Horton’s, Hershey’s and Kraft Heinz.
League sponsors across North America include Coors Light, EA Sports, Gatorade, Enterprise, Honda, Lay’s, Pepsi, Reebok and Molson Canadian.
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