Marketing the NHL, HOW?

Discussion in 'The Business of Hockey' started by ScottyBowman, Jan 28, 2005.

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  1. ScottyBowman

    ScottyBowman Registered User

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    I keep hearing people talk about marketing the NHL. What exactly is the NHL supposed to do? First of all, they have a huge strike against them because their league is primarily made up of white players and its always been that way. Other sports have hispanic and blacks and the black/hispanic market is fairly large. Second problem is that many of the elite players are foreigners and their English isn't the best. Having someone like Jagr telling me to go watch hockey in broken English doesn't come across too well.

    Last but not least, most hockey players tend to be "dull" or lacking personality. When you watch an interview with a hockey player, its cliche after cliche. When you watch an interview with an NFL player, it can be non-stop entertainment. The league definately needs more Brett Hulls, Roenicks, Chelios etc... who speak their mind. I know everyone is going to think I'm completely offbase but I had to get it off my chest.
     
  2. bladoww

    bladoww Team of the Future

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    Yeah I was actually thinking about the racial thing just yesterday. Definately an area for concern. A big part of it is TV. HD will help, but not alone. I think more frequent shots from a camera down low, and especially the camera that runs along the cable from end to end over the ice.
     
  3. kerrly

    kerrly Registered User

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    I think Jarome Iginla would help the situation, as long as a person of color is one of the most dominant players in the league, it will bring interest to the minorities. Look at what the Williams sisters have done for tennis. And that is probably the whitest sport in the world.
     
  4. kenabnrmal

    kenabnrmal Registered User

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    I don't think you're completely off-base, and I commend you for your forward thinking. Its all too easy for people to say "well, clearly the problem with the NHL is in marketing. They don't do enough. Market more, and all will be well". Its lazy and ignorant, which makes it perfect message board fodder. Taking the step to asking the question "yeah marketing, but HOW???" is more than 90% seem willing to take.

    I don't necessarily agree that more out-spoken players are needed. I think NHLers are plenty personable when they are encouraged to actually speak their mind, as opposed to the pre-written cliche's they're taught in juniors.

    To be honest, without seeing the budget the league has for marketing, and without a comprehensive review of what they've done in the past and what different opportunities are, its really tough for me to come up with marketing ideas. However, I'd far prefer an "I don't know" answer than one full of "solutions" which have little use in reality.
     
  5. CarlRacki

    CarlRacki Registered User

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    I don't completely disagree, though I'm not sure the picture is as bleak as you paint it.
    NASCAR is 100 percent boring, white guys (mostly rednecks, to boot) and they seem to be doing just fine marketing their "athletes" and product. And, for what it's worth, I'm not sure their English is much better than Jagr's. ;)
    It can be done, it just needs to be done with much more creativity than what the league's marketing people have provided.
     
  6. HF2002

    HF2002 Registered User

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    This isn't a problem with Jagr, then. It's a problem with the person who is listening and sloughing him off for being European. Jagr's english is fine.
     
  7. bladoww

    bladoww Team of the Future

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    Anybody remember back in 92 when he first came over? That was fun. He has definately come a long way - much improved.
     
  8. Jaded-Fan

    Jaded-Fan Registered User

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    Mario did not speak a word of english when he came to Pittsburgh, and he was and remains arguably the most beloved athelete in this area. Jagr was loved here too, that did not change because of his accent, but because he was . . . well, Jagr.

    So the arguments do not entirely hold water.
     
  9. ScottyBowman

    ScottyBowman Registered User

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    My whole post completely flew over your head. This isn't about Jagr, its about how the NHL can market the league.
     
  10. Jaded-Fan

    Jaded-Fan Registered User

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    I chose only to address that one post within the thread.

    Though if you want my opinion on marketing the league, I personally believe that they are taking some enormous steps in the right direction to maximize the popularity of the sport. True, you might never have it be like basketball or baseball because of the race issues, I am not sure about that one, but will grant it for arguments sake within this post. But create at least the impression that year in year out any team can compete for a big FA signing, can be a winner and you have the basis for maximizing what hockey can be league wide and getting the most interest possible in the league. Other things, HDTV, raising scoring, lessening clutch and grab, etc, etc, can be tinkered with too. But none of those will have the effect of what the league is trying to do right now.
     
  11. PeterSidorkiewicz

    PeterSidorkiewicz Registered User

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    People are paid lots and lots of money to come up with great marketing ideas to improve a product. I am pretty sure if the NHL hired the right people and put more money and effort into the right people to market the game for them, it can be successful. Maybe the first order of business to market the game is not to have a failure of a commish.
     
  12. djhn579

    djhn579 Registered User

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    I don't think that race or european athletes is that major an issue. I think that one of the major problems has been that games are not on TV consistently. If you look at the NFL, Monday night football is huge. Even on Sunday, you know when to tune in and there is always a game on during the season. In Canada, Hockey Night in Canada is huge. What do we have in the US? ESPN shows a number of games, some on ESPN, some on ESPN2. Some early, some late. If they came out with a standard time slot and pushed it heavily, I think it could go a long way towards improving the leagues popularity. It will require money though, since the league may have to lose money on the TV contract to force the games into a good time slot.

    On top of that, they also have to get some decent broadcasters doing the games. I could barely stand listening to games on ESPN, the broadcasters were too boring. HNiC is much better, and the Buffalo Sabres broadcasters are among the best in the league. If you want to attract fans, it has to be entertaining. Now add a good 1/2 hr to 1 hr pre-game show, with highlights from all over the league, and it will start getting peoples attention.

    Like I said though, this will require an investment from the league until it gets to a point where it could support itself.
     
  13. thinkwild

    thinkwild Veni Vidi Toga

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    Niceness and refusal to taunt the karma is The Canadian influence? Id like to see more Roenicks too though. Its entertaintment too, come on taunt, its part of the fun of sports. We all do it, unless we are on a message board where sensitivities are too much too allow it.

    Canadians, and im going to dangerously generalize here, i think see American marketing as sort of glitzy and over the top at times. When you say how should we market the game, you must mean how should we market the game to the american markets. Because certainly there is little need for it in Canada. Canadian team need big PR departments to keep up with media demands, not to send out press releases to the media to try and generate interest.

    Again treading dangerously, i thought the fox puck was a very american idea, and maybe is the right type of idea for that market. Canadian beer even made a pretty funny commercial mocking it. But perhaps it demonstrates the differences in how you market to each country.

    I think one of the mistakes we make is that we compare NFL and NHL and assume the NHL is failing for not matching the NFL. But being 25% as popular as the NFL in the States could actually be success, and not a sign of failure.

    Fans seem to suggest that anything short of every market at 100% attendance and revenue generating ability at all times is a failure, but that is simply unrealistic. There are going to always be losers. Its hard to believe that Carolina fans would be any more likely to come to the game if their team had the same record as now but were financially on the same playing field. We need a way to market losers, because they have to exist. I get the feeling its felt that if all teams were financially the same, the marketing problem would be easier. (Because the owners stop complaining? Seems hard to believe it would ever happen) How do they market the Bengals, the Saints?
     
  14. thinkwild

    thinkwild Veni Vidi Toga

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    Well the league is fully capable of supporting itself, its revenues have already grown by the amount they said they were losing, and the players also agreed to roll back their salaries by the amount they said they were losing and give them controls to keep them there if they were real losses. So really they could have doubled the rollback in profits.

    But other than that I agree these are key points. The time slot is really important, and the States still dont seem to have settled on the key time slot which is really one of the NFLs most important marketing assets. The time slot in Canada is entrenched. Perhaps hockey night in Canada should split its broadcasting 8 ways instead of the 2 or 3 it usually does now and include american markets done by Cole and Cherry on Saturday night.

    Perhaps the advent of HDTV and NBC and Centre ice combined with a new studio presnetation of the sport on tv, will bring a whole new American view to the sport as TSN did in Canada. But TSN responded to demand.
     
  15. djhn579

    djhn579 Registered User

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    I think you misunderstood what I meant when I said supporting itself. I was refering to games being broadcast consistently in a time slot. The NHL TV deal right now is not the best. In order to get a primetime slot on any network, the NHL will have to pay the network until they show they can generate enough fan interest to justify the network paying the NHL.

    HDTV could have a major effect on the leagues future TV deals. I just wonder how long before that becomes "main stream"
     
  16. Wetcoaster

    Wetcoaster Guest

    Here is how the NHL's investment banker, Moag and Company suggested marketing the NHL experience in its June 2004 report:
     
  17. Tom_Benjamin

    Tom_Benjamin Registered User

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    Get good teams in the big markets. Make sure Jarome Iginla plays in Chicago or New York. Get the current group of draft eligible players to be declared free agents so Sidney Crosby ends up in a big American media market. Allow early free agency to ensure small market teams can't build a dynasty.

    Lock out players for a year so everyone will forget hockey ever existed. Then relaunch it with replacement players and market it as as a brand new extreme sport.

    Tom
     
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