SBJ/20090525/This Week's News

PORTAL puts some pop into NHL.com stats

The NHL is generating league-record levels of audience growth on NHL.com through its extensive PORTAL strategy, introduced last month for the postseason.

Through roughly a month of postseason play, the NHL recorded 12.9 million unique users on its site for all of April and is projecting more than 11 million unique users for May, according to internal metrics. Both are best-ever marks for NHL.com.

The NHL recorded 12.9M unique
users on its site for all of April,
its best mark ever.

For the playoff period specifically, unique users, page views and total visits to the site are all up by 35 percent compared with last year, countering a trend where many leading sports Web sites are flat or slightly down in raw traffic relative to 2008.

Additionally, video starts on NHL.com are up by 147 percent since the postseason began. That growth is fueled by both a heavy increase in overall video material through such content as postgame press conferences, and a temporary time shift and rebranding of “The Hockey Show” to a Cisco-sponsored daily whip-around show that previews each night’s contests.

Perhaps most heartening to league officials, though, is the relative lack of attrition in traffic in markets that have had their local teams eliminated from the playoffs during the early rounds. Typically, traffic to NHL.com falls off sharply as the postseason progresses and more teams are defeated. But beyond heavy, anticipated Web traffic growth in resurgent hockey markets such as Chicago and Washington, D.C., first-round knockout markets such as New York and St. Louis are also showing double-digit growth in unique visitors during May.

“We’ve reversed a lot of historical trends,” said John Collins, NHL chief operating officer. “Markets are sustaining themselves much stronger than they have in the past, and we’ve been able to provide a deeper, more meaningful experience to the fan.”

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