Thoughts on NHL business

14May07

Caught this today over at Paul Kukla’s site:

NHL regular-season and preseason revenue grew 5 percent to 7 percent this year, putting total revenue on track to grow to between $2.2 billion and $2.25 billion for the entire season. Such growth would deliver a $100 million to $150 million increase on last year’s revenue of $2.1 billion, which was equal to pre-lockout levels. It also would push the salary cap from $44 million to between $47 million and $49 million this offseason and entitle players to between 55 and 56 percent of revenue in 2007-08.

I know that attendance was down for a little bit during the first half of the season, then surged during the second half. Still, I don’t think that the “record numbers” are really what’s to account for the growth in business, especially when the average increase per game was a whopping six butts in the seats. It’s definitely not TV ratings (the new Hockey Night in Canada deal doesn’t kick in until next season) since almost everyone’s ratings are down.

I’m guessing there’s been significant growth in the NHL’s online presence this season by things like Verizon Vcast, YouTube/Google Video, The NewsRoom, and all other types of “new media” distribution. Kukla also had another article about how Center Ice package sales are up 38%, and all together, this probably means that the NHL is actually getting more exposure across the board even though TV ratings are down. And, as PJ from Sharkspage noted, TV ratings for everything are down thanks to Tivo/DVR, online streaming, etc.

The fact that the NHL can continue to push revenue growth even though attendance was basically the same as last year and TV ratings were down shows that for pretty much for the first time ever, the NHL is actually being very forward-thinking compared to other sports leagues. By grabbing all sorts of online opportunities (there’s even a MySpace partnership — I can’t wait to see Gary Bettman’s MySpace page) before the other leagues, the NHL’s online division is showing the kind of foresight necessary to adapt to the shifting media market.

Of course, you know 20 years from now people will still be saying the NHL’s online viewing ratings are crappy and never going to change.

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One Response to “Thoughts on NHL business”

  1. 1 Anonymous

    Interesting. You are failing to account for the appreciation of the Canadian dollar. It’s now 91 cents USD. It was in the low 70s for the last per lockout season and the low 60s a few years earlier. There’s your growth in NHL revenues, close to 1/3rd of which are now sourced in Canada.


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