Friday, December 22, 2006

NHL Might Finally Gain Some Legs

While the NHL has gained momentum with increased ticket sales, the sport is still lacking with television viewers. One main reason could be that the national games are on Versus and very few people know where the station is located on cable.

I just found out that NBC is taking another crack at showing NHL games. I thought they had left the sport for good. According to Broadcasting & Cable, they have some interesting marketing/PR tactics:

* The new creative is set to launch during NBC’s Christmas Day broadcast of a National Football League game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles, and will run not only within sports programming but also in other dayparts

* NBC’s strategy is to brand its weekend afternoon hockey games as a feature game, the "Game of the Week" in the NHL, similar to how it has attempted to brand its Sunday Night Football contests

* The network will try to push some of the young stars of the league that have yet to achieve mainstream name recognition, such as Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.

* NBC’s new campaign includes a two-minute promotional video that will run in NHL arenas and on the NBC Sports and NHL websites leading up to Jan. 13.

* The campaign also features print advertising, as well as promotional video running at retail outlets such as Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Costco and Best Buy.

Hopefully, the NHL is at the same place the NBA was back in 1980 when Bird and Magic joined the League. The NHL is smart to be putting their marketing dollars behind Crosby and Ovechkin. They two players have the potential to lead the league back to respectability.

Other items they should push include e-mail marketing and involvement with MySpace. They are already showing games on YouTube.

The NHL is on the right road, from a marketing/PR standpoint to gain more interest and traction with its passionate fans as well as general sports fans.


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