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SBD/November 6, 2014/SMT Conference
NHL COO John Collins Talks League's Revenue Growth, Plans For World Cup Of Hockey
Published November 6, 2014
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SILICON VALLEY: Collins said one outdoor game this year will be held at Levi’s Stadium, providing an opportunity for the NHL to “rub against Silicon Valley.” The league held an “Innovation Day” on Oct. 27 at SAP Center in San Jose that featured demonstrations of new technology for league officials, rights holders, sponsors and club execs. One idea presented was a project with SportVision to reintroduce the “Fox glowing puck,” a feature used in the '90’s to highlight the puck’s location and speed during broadcasts. Collins said there is a big push to more properly create an accurate digital record of the action on the ice through technology and tracking akin to what has been done in baseball, and that the player’s union has been supportive of ideas for that.
WORLD CUP: The league is still moving forward with its plan to host a World Cup of Hockey. Collins said the current plan is to feature eight national teams at a single destination in a 16- or 17-game tournament that will span a couple of weeks with no qualifying games. Previous versions of the tournament, held in '96 and '04, were played in a variety of venues around the world. The tournament would likely be held in September and feature a best two-out-of-three final, Collins said. The league, along with the NHLPA, would own the tournament and could sell the rights to a broadcasting partner.
CONFLICT WITH OLYMPICS: Commenting on the revenue that might be realized from a World Cup of Hockey, Collins said the key difference between that event and the Olympics is that the World Cup would be “our IP, and the Olympics isn’t.” Collins said the league has not always received “full value” from having its players participate in the Olympics, as having the NHL “go dark” during the Games is a problem. Collins noted that the timing of the Olympics also presents a problem for its rights holders. Games played in some time zones, such as during the '10 Vancouver Games, can be shown in primetime, However, at other Olympics, like the '18 Pyeongchang Games, “a game being shown at 4 a.m. isn’t good.”
ADVERTISING OUTLOOK: Collins said that jersey sponsorship is both “coming and happening,” and noted that jersey branding by manufacturers is already a form of jersey sponsorship. He also noted that the league is continuing to test digital replacement technology for board advertisements, as written about in this week’s SportsBusiness Journal.