In designing its marketing strategy for 1995 and beyond, the NHL has several options it can pursue to profitably expand its fan base. One such option is to implement a grassroots street-hockey program that attempts to increase understanding and interest of the game through participation. This strategy would encompass a travelling street-hockey tournament, equipment donations to youth clubs, and an All Star weekend similar to the NBA. The NHL can also use an increased TV/media presence as a growth driver. Currently, the league’s television rights are significantly below its major competitors, particularly within the United States. This report will recommend that the NHL utilize both the grassroots and media strategy to foster their growth. The grassroots model alone is unable to stimulate the amount of desired growth, and substantial television presence represents not only a large potential revenue stream, but also a way to create interest in the game. Furthermore, the NHL should begin advertising during the broadcasts of the other major sports to target those who are already sports fans. These strategies will help address the lack of awareness of hockey within the United States and should help create interest in the game. Equipment donations to public schools will also help develop a younger fan base. Additionally, the sport will continue to struggle in the United States unless they can begin broadcasting entire seasons on a major television network. Thus, the league should attempt to broadcast games on a network such as ABC, which has proven effective for other sports leagues. The threat that increasing player salaries has on the league’s overall profitability can also be managed with a team salary cap. In implementing the above strategies, the NHL will set foot in the right direction of growing its fan base and generating more revenue.
After the NHL’s 1995 season, concerns arose regarding club profitability and the weak financial status of teams in smaller Canadian and American markets. The NHL must develop new strategies to profitably expand its fan base, mostly in the United States. Two potential ways of achieving this goal are to implement grassroots programs and increase the NHL’s media coverage. This is crucial for reinforcing the NHL’s credibility both as a professional sports organization and as a source of popular entertainment. Political Analysis
A players’ union represents the interests of all hockey players in the NHL. During the 1994-1995 season, a union-management dispute over a player salary cap resulted in a 103 day lockout. This removed 36 games from the original 84 game season. Economic Analysis
Teams located in smaller Canadian markets were unable to sustain themselves even though they have large and devoted fan base. These markets did not generate enough revenues to cover the team’s rising expenses, especially salaries demanded by players. Social Analysis
The NHL was increasingly perceived as trendy and hip by sports fans. Sports Illustrated magazine cemented hockey's coming-on-strong status with its memorable "Why the NHL’s Hot and the NBA’s Not” cover in 1994. Basketball’s image was moving in the reverse direction, and termed “butt-ugly” and “thuggish” by some commentators. Meanwhile, the NHL was in a great position in 1995, with hockey touted as “sexy and cutting-edge” by the New York Times.
Hockey has long had a rabid, loyal fan base in Canada. The sport is firmly embedded in the nation’s culture. The sport is less recognized in the U.S., since the Americans are hesitant to broadcast hockey due to its perception as a Canadian sport. Older generations also tend to associate negative stereotypes with the sport, namely the allegedly violent nature of hockey.
In the past, hockey was mainly characterized as a “misunderstood game” that “suffered from underexposure”. Hockey was traditionally perceived as a sport that could...