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Volume 26 No. 5
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NHL Signs Four Companies To Corner Ads Throughout Playoffs

The NHL has signed deals with Amazon Web Services, Enterprise, MGM Resorts and Ticketmaster for the league’s four in-ice corner ad positions during the ’19 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The league introduced the positions for the first time in last year’s postseason, which it then carried into the regular season. The league controls the positions during the playoffs, while the teams control them during the regular season. The four in-ice positions in the neutral zone are team inventory for any non-league event game, including the playoffs. Enterprise, MGM Resorts and Ticketmaster are all existing league partners -- Enterprise renewed its deal with the league earlier this year, while MGM became the league’s first sports betting partner in October. NHL Chief Revenue Officer Keith Wachtel said the league has avoided signing long-term partnerships for the positions giving the league the flexibility to have different partners each year and potentially for every league event. However, the larger partnership with MGM Resorts included the in-position on a longer-term basis. Amazon Web Services is a new partner for the league, and Wachtel said the position came up as part of a larger discussion with the company regarding potential partnerships around technology. He described the deal as a “true brand play." Wachtel: "While we did have those broader long-term discussions, this is not a fully integrated partnership. If we can convert brands in a league-wide partnership, great, but this is a branding play.” He declined to comment on the financial terms of the four deals, only noting the league had “aggressive budgets” that these deals met.

PLEASED WITH FIRST YEAR: Wachtel said that the league was very pleased with the results for the first year of the new program, stating that revenue in the category across the league was up 25% from the NHL’s original estimates. He declined to provide additional information. All 31 teams sold the inventory during the regular season, filling the positions via a mix of deals that included partnerships with new companies, renewals of existing partners and upsells to others. Wachtel said the league is currently reviewing the program on improving the exposure of the positions for year two, which could potentially include allowing more vibrant paint colors or slightly change the dimensions of the advertising. Current restrictions on the ads state they cannot be larger than 44 square feet.

MORE LEAGUE BUSINESS TAKING PLACE: The NHL has signed a multiyear partnership with MassMutual, making the company the official life insurance and retirement planning partner of the league. MassMutual will launch a series of activations celebrating hockey moms. A new campaign tied to Mother’s Day will allow fans in the U.S. to nominate moms to be selected as the “Most Valuable Hockey Mom,” with the winner receiving a trip to the ’19 NHL Awards in Las Vegas. MassMutual will also serve as the presenting partner of the NHL’s Thanksgiving Day parade float, in addition to activating at the NHL’s tentpole events. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.