NHL Looks To Accelerate Virtual Signage To Offset Revenue Losses
NHL Chief Business Officer & Exec VP/Global Partnerships Keith Wachtel said that the league "would explore in-arena fan engagement experiences with its new 5G partnership with Verizon, including exclusive 4K camera experiences," and that it will "look to accelerate its in-game virtual signage technology," according to Jabari Young of CNBC.com. The league during the pandemic used a "mixture of national and local advertisements on its dasher boards to help offset lost game-day revenue." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said that game-day income "makes up 50% of the NHL's annual revenue," which was roughly $5B in '19. Wachtel said that bubble crews in Edmonton and Toronto "replaced the dasher boards with team-level local sponsorships after each game." He said the ad space was "valuable inventory." After testing what he called the 'Digitally Enhanced Dashboard (DED)' at the NHL’s All-Star Game in January, Wachtel said that the league "could be ready to add the virtual banners for the 2021-22 season." The league invested in London-based company Supponor to "develop the ads, which Wachtel said will allow brands to have ownership of what appears." The NHL "wants the virtual slots to help expand global partnerships, and if effective, it could allow clubs additional sponsorship income" (CNBC.com, 10/1).