Sharks Hoping To Connect Global Supporters With New Fan Club
The Sharks one year ago formed an eight-person "new ventures team" comprised of various staffers to evaluate new revenue streams or business units in the evolving sports business landscape. In late December, the first idea that originated from the group came to life in the Sharks 1991 Club. Sharks VP/Marketing & Digital Doug Bentz said, "It’s a revenue opportunity that’s targeting passionate and engaged fans, ones that would also enjoy exclusive content." The global fan club uses a two-tier subscription model, an annual membership for $25 and a 10-year legend membership for $199. Fans with the annual subscription receive a welcome letter, lapel pin and decal while those with the upgraded subscription also receive a 1991 Club-branded hat, flag and luggage tag. Exclusive content for 1991 Club members is not being repurposed from other channels. A "Perspectives from the Past" monthly written series features alumni sharing memories and where they are today. Radio play-by-play announcer Dan Rusanowsky hosts an exclusive podcast that includes players and personalities, special guests and tales of Sharks history. The team took its popular video series "Mic’d Up" and gave 1991 Club members an extended version with deeper access. The Sharks also plan to tap into their video archives for the first time.
BIG PLANS ON THE HORIZON: Bentz characterized the new fan engagement platform as a "six-figure opportunity," potentially returning low six figures at the one-year mark and possibly mid-six-figures in the future. To date, the 1991 Club is approaching 500 members, with 35 different states represented, five Canadian provinces and 14 countries. By Jan. 1, 2021, Bentz said he would like to see the membership numbers in the "mid-thousands." He added that the idea for the 1991 Club was to provide a way for fans outside of the San Jose market to connect with each other and find a communal Sharks experience. As word spreads about the 1991 Club, there could be opportunities for fans in other NHL cities to engage with the Sharks when they are in town. Exclusive viewing parties, ticketing giveaways and other fan promotions are all possibilities for club members once a critical mass is reached, Bentz said. Should the Sharks ever play a game in Europe, there will already be an established formal connection with fans in that area. "We’re trying to create a community and really a gateway to other international opportunities that we see in the future," Bentz said.