With the COVID-19 pandemic changing everything, the National Hockey League has been looking for ways to recuperate revenue.
It stands to reason we’ll see some changes when the 2020-2021 season gets underway shortly, with the league naming four sponsors for their regionalized divisions. They have also re-named each division accordingly, as follows:
- Scotia NHL North Division (Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg)
- Honda NHL West Division (Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles, Minnesota, San Jose, St. Louis, Vegas)
- Discover NHL Central Division (Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Nashville, Tampa Bay)
- MassMutual NHL East Division (Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington)
The NHL will also be advertising on player helmets this season, with each team carrying their own sponsorship agreements. We already know the sponsors for 13 teams as of Tuesday, with more announcements expected shortly.
It’s not believed the divisional naming sponsorship arrangement will last beyond this season, so this is a one-shot deal. Theoretically.
Most helmet sponsors are already team sponsors and own arena naming rights, like Bell’s sponsorship of the Montreal Canadiens.
Without a doubt, the NHL has to do something to make up for the expected massive revenue shortfall for this season. And if ownership groups recognize helmet advertisements and the like as viable sources of future revenue, even after the pandemic, you better get used to it.
Right now, the rationale is the NHL has to make up revenue lost as they hold games in empty buildings. And that’s certainly a fact, with many executives justifying it as essential to keeping people employed and ensuring the lights stay on.
“Of course, the teams are in a big hole,” Nashville chief revenue officer Chris Junghans told The Associated Press. “So, they’re looking for valuable, tangible assets that will help us make partners whole. And it needed to be valuable, it needed to be dynamic.”
Some teams have separate sponsors for home and away games, while some clubs even appear to have a different sponsor for practices.
Other marketing you’ll notice this season includes the potential for virtual advertisements on the ice just inside the bluelines, as well as expanded signage on the benches and advertising on the tarp seat covers.