SBD/June 7, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Feel That Fire: NHL's Coplin Working To Bring More Music Partnerships To League

The NHL has signed a licensing agreement with country singer Dierks Bentley, the “first such artist campaign under the leadership" of NHL Exec VP/Content Charles Coplin, according to Mitchell Peters of BILLBOARD magazine. Bentley’s song “Am I the Only One” was featured last month in “TV tune-in spots during the NHL conference finals on networks like NBC, CBC and the NHL Network.” They also “ran on NHL.com and team websites.” Bentley also is releasing an alternative video to CMT and other outlets for "Am I the Only One" that "features highlights from the 2010-11 NHL season, footage from his recent concert tour and home videos of him playing hockey.” Coplin, who reports to NHL COO John Collins, joined the NHL in September. Taking a “page from the NFL’s playbook, Collins and Coplin have been keen on expanding the NHL’s entertainment brand through the launch of special events and artist partnerships.” Coplin plans to "leverage relationships he built as a booker of the Super Bowl halftime show and use them to create unique musical opportunities” for the NHL season. Coplin said that “booking talent for a massive event like the Super Bowl halftime show … can be somewhat constricting, in that it needs to be an act with wide, mainstream appeal.” But he said the NHL has “a targeted demographic and we can take some edgier acts.” Coplin added that he is “eager to expand the NHL’s relationship with more musical acts” (BILLBOARD, 6/11 issue).

CONTINUING TO HEAD IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: FORBES' Tom Van Riper wrote under the header, "Another Promising Season For NHL." The league's business "generally remained steady this year after a nice bump in 2010, when post season television ratings moved up thanks to the strong showing of the U.S. and Canadian Olympic teams and the rise of the Blackhawks." Eighteen of the 30 teams "increased attendance from last year, led by Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Nashville, which all drew at least 1,100 more fans per game." Only nine teams "saw attendance fall." Sports Business Group President David Carter said, "You have to look at the NHL as the most stable of all the major sports leagues right now. Turnstile count is strong, they're attracting more sponsorship dollars, and they have relative labor peace" (FORBES.com, 6/6).
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