SBD/February 13, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Study Finds NHL Will Lose More Than $325M In Brand Value After Lockout

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Forty-one percent of casual Canadian hockey fans feel "more negatively" toward the NHL
This year's NHL lockout "has left many Canadian hockey fans feeling slighted by the NHL, a factor that has pulled down its overall brand value," according to a Brand Finance report cited by David Friend of the CP. The consultancy firm estimated that the NHL will lose nearly US$328.2M in brand value in '13 as "fans spend less money on hockey in the coming year." Brand Finance Managing Dir for Canada Edgar Baum said, "It is possible to recover (the brand value), but we're not seeing any indication that's going to happen." The report was "coupled with a survey of Canadian hockey fans completed by its partner firm Level 5," which showed that 41% of casual hockey fans are feeling "more negatively about the sport" after the lockout. Level 5 Managing Partner & CEO David Kincaid said that casual hockey fans "say they plan to cut back on season tickets, branded merchandise and watch sports packages they bought from local cables and satellite providers less." The study "seems to contradict recent evidence that Canadian fans are more rabid about hockey than they've been in years." The survey found that of hockey fans polled who consider themselves "very passionate," about 39% say that they are likely to spend less money on season tickets next year. Only 9% say that they will "increase their season ticket spending," while 52% will "stay the same." About 37% said that they "plan to spend less on merchandise," while 11% said that they will "spend more." The Level 5 survey of 2,074 Canadians was "conducted between Jan. 11 and 14, about a week before the shortened hockey season began" (CP, 2/13). Baum said, "If we were looking to rate an investment in the NHL and its teams like you’d rate an investment in a security, we’d value it as a ‘sell’ or at best a ‘hold.’ What remains to be seen is how long the resentment -- and diminished valuation -- will last" (THE DAILY).

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL: In Denver, Adrian Dater writes it "seems clear" that hockey fans "couldn't wait for their sport to come back, and they gave it a big warm embrace when it did." This year's lockout was "annoying to hockey fans, but the interest in the game's resumption was intense." The larger point is hockey fans are "not as many in number, especially in the United States, as in other major sports, but they are insanely passionate about the game." Those who "predicted all that major damage for the sport during the lockout just didn't get that" (DENVER POST, 2/10).

TIME TO FIGHT FIGHTING: In Boston, Christopher Gasper wrote, “In this age of acute concussion awareness, it’s time for the NHL to KO fighting." This "won’t be popular with the paying customers or players," but that is a "small price to pay to protect the brains of NHL players.” Gasper: “I’m not anti-fighting. I’m just anti-brain damage.” Fighting “won’t go down without a fight," as it is "ingrained in the culture of the NHL.” The absence of fighting “would mean the loss of opportunity for certain types of players” (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/10).
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