SBD/June 24, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHL Reportedly Projecting $1B Revenue Spike Over Next Three Seasons

Average attendance for 25 of 30 NHL teams was up or equal to last season
NHL execs during a June 10 meeting informed their audit and finance committee that the league is projected to bring in an additional $1B of "cumulative revenue over the next three seasons," according to sources cited by Christopher Botta of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. NHL revenue totaled $3.2B in '11-12, the league's "last full season prior to this year’s lockout-shortened campaign." League revenue this year, with each team having played 48 regular-season games, "is expected to be" $2.4B. The NHL has "reason to be confident in the potential for that billion-dollar jolt," as this season's figure represents 72% of the revenue with 58% of the games played. The league is "producing six outdoor games next season," including the Winter Classic, the Heritage Classic in Canada, and four games branded as the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. Negotiations are "expected to begin for Canadian media rights deals" by the end of the summer. With TSN and Sportsnet "looking to bid" on the CBC's "Hockey Night In Canada," the price is "expected to rise significantly from the current six-year pact" that pays $100M annually (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/24 issue). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Larry Brooks noted NHL players' ultimate escrow loss for '12-13 "will take months to calculate," but the NHLPA has agreed its share "will include" the approximately $75M owners paid to injured players during the lockout (N.Y. POST, 6/23).

HEALTHY IN A HURRY
: In N.Y., Klein & Hackel noted NHL fans following the lockout "came back immediately and in droves." Average attendance for 25 of 30 teams was "up or equal to" last season. There also were "healthy leaps" in regular-season TV audiences "on both sides of the border." Stanley Cup Final viewership also is up in both the U.S. and Canada. It is "all quite a contrast" to the '94-95 lockout-shortened season, in which "attendance was flat and American viewership decreased." Not only has this year's lockout "become a nonissue, its results have been seamlessly incorporated into the game’s landscape, something that would have been hard to fathom during the contentious months of negotiation." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the league's owners "shut the league down, achieved their goal of sharply reducing the players' share of revenues, and came out the other side with no lasting damage to the league’s image" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/23). MACLEANS' Jonathon Gatehouse wrote, "What happened to all the anger? Confronted with a third lockout in 18 years and deprived of hockey for 113 days, many fans vowed to take it out on both the owners and the players by staying home, turning off their sets and even boycotting sponsors. Yet as soon as the puck dropped, they returned in droves." SME Branding Senior Partner & Chief Creative Officer Ed O'Hara said, "It's uncanny how well the NHL has bounced back" (MACLEANS.ca, 6/24).
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