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Published March 8, 2010
Keith Wachtel may have dropped part of his title this year, but that certainly didn’t curb his responsibilities.
To capitalize on the launch of the NHL Network and a new mobile venture in Canada, as well as the expanding popularity of the Winter Classic, the NHL in the last year combined its sales and marketing efforts under Wachtel and Brian Jennings, the league’s executive vice president of marketing. Jennings added responsibilities for partnership marketing, which allowed Wachtel to spend more time on strategic sales.
It also put corporate, NHL Network and NHL.com sales under one roof. The goal: create a structure that would allow traditional sponsorship deals to fuel media sales, and vice versa.
“A lot of our business now is being generated by media, because the traditional licensing model really doesn’t exist anymore,” said Wachtel, senior vice president of integrated sales. “As a result we found that we were able to drive business from all three of those disciplines.”
In the first year it led to the U.S. Army, a six-figure media buyer on NHL.com, buying inventory from NHL Network and a presenting sponsorship of the Winter Classic, additions that pushed it into the seven figures.
It also helped to generate renewals with Bell and Verizon, as well as new deals with Compuware, Geico and Enterprise. The latter represents the first time the NHL has packaged rights to the league and all 30 of its teams, and Wachtel is working on similar proposals for other prospects.
The new mobile deal is just one venture that the NHL is hoping to launch in Canada, where Wachtel is spending much of his time, as the league considers adding an additional outdoor game north of the Lower 48.
“We’re trying to build various businesses that work on both sides of the border,” he said.
He and his wife are expecting their first child in July.