Next Wednesday the NHL drops the puck on its 2019-20 season and with that date hurling towards us the league has had a flurry of newsworthy items. This column, NHL Business Line, will be a weekly publication that takes a look around the business of hockey and reports back noteworthy pieces. Some of this week’s top items include the hiring of the Seattle franchise scout team, the league’s efforts to raise social media profiles, and a pair of interesting sponsorships.
Starting with Seattle, the expansion franchise announced it’s scout team on Wednesday and quite literally made headlines. The 2021 expansion team named Cammi Granato to their scouting staff, making her the first female pro scout in the league. She is a former Olympic hockey player who helped the United States win the 1998 gold medal at the Nagano Olympics.
“What a time in sports right now, seeing all sorts of ceilings shattered by women. If I can inspire someone to become a scout or work in an NHL front office, that’s amazing,” said Granato in the team’s press release.
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Granato joins John Goodwin, Stu Barnes, Ulf Samuelsson, and Dave Hunter in the Seattle scouting department.
NHL Looking to Help Grow Player Profiles
On Thursday, the NHL announced a new partnership with a company called Opendorse. Opendorse is a brand specifically made to help market athletes and the main goal of this partnership is to do just that. The league and the clubs will use the platform to aid players in sharing content related to them on their various social media accounts.
With the platform, the league will be able to send players specific content related to them to help grow their brands. For the NHL, this will allow them to help build players’ profiles. Building stars helps draw attention to the league and is good for the brand all around.
“Our players have some of the most passionate, engaged fans in all of sports, and we believe we can help them continue to build and capitalize on that connection on social media,” said NHL CMO and Executive Vice President Hedi Browning in the press release. “With Opendorse, we can grow the game and provide value to our players that will last long beyond their time on the ice.”
Stars growing their profiles on social media will not only aid their efforts to raise their exposure but potentially increase the value of their followers. More followers equals more money in the player’s pockets when it comes to charging for sponsored content.
NHL Getting into Hard Seltzer Market
On Monday, the NHL announced something new to them, a hard seltzer sponsorship. Boston Beer Company-owned Truly Hard Seltzer is set to be the official hard seltzer of the NHL. Per the league, the partnership is expected to start with the 2019-20 season and run for five-years.
With the deal, the NHL is the first professional sports league that Truly has affiliated with. According to UBS Analyst Sean King, the current market is valued at $550 million, but could jump to $2.5 billion by 2021. For the NHL, this allows them to generate incremental revenue, but also be aligned with a product that reaches a younger audience. Boston Beer Company, Inc. currently has a market cap of $4.2 billion.
In addition to the Truly partnership, the league also added Tailored Brands, Inc. into its sponsorship portfolio. This announcement came on Wednesday and allows fans to create some pretty cool suits. Tailored is a company that owns Men’s Wearhouse, Moores Clothing for Men, and Jos. A. Bank. Starting Oct. 2 they will allow NHL fans to go into their Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank locations and customize their outfits with linings from NHL teams.
In addition to other NHL-themed items, Tailored Brands will be a part of Hockey Fights Cancer in November with special, themed items being created for the initiative. Tailored Brands currently has a market cap of $215 million.
Importance of Getting Off to a Hot Start
With the NHL season upon us, the importance of getting off to a hot start is critical. That means attendance, national television numbers, and everything that goes into the operation of the NHL. A sluggish start would create a game of catch-up in a critical year for the league.
The NHL last season posted slight attendance growth, national broadcast growth, and revenue growth as a league. Continuing that trend into the 2019-20 season with the NBC rights deal ending is paramount in netting a new, record-setting deal.
Check back in next week on NHL Business Line when the first attendance and broadcast numbers come in.
Tanner covers the business of hockey of The Hockey Writers in addition to running his own New England sports website, Trifecta Sports.