I popular. Roller hockey is a sport that

I believe
that the NHL should grow its fan base through grassroots marketing. The
grassroots market approach will in turn create a larger audience who watches
the NHL on television. If the NHL wants their fan base to grow, they need to
start marketing to younger generations rather than just focusing on the history
of the sport. In Marketing the National Hockey League, Rick Dudley says “The
best way to create a fan is to play the game. In the past, hockey was
restricted to an ice surface. Today, the game of hockey is no longer confined
to ice rinks or frozen ponds, but is being played in increasing numbers on the
streets, in the parks, and on gymnasium floors all across America.” Kids in elementary
school should be playing hockey in gym class with sticks and pucks and their
gym shoes. By introducing kids to hockey, they will be more likely to be a fan
of it as they grow older. In places that don’t have much of a winter, like
Arizona, hockey is not very popular. Roller hockey is a sport that could be played
more practically in these locations and then the NHL can be introduced through
roller hockey. The case also discussed the NHL’s grassroots programs they had
in place. NHL Breakout, Nike/NHL Street, and Allstar Weekend/ NHL FANtasy are
the three programs that the NHL developed for their grassroots marketing strategy.
I have never heard of any of these programs. I think that if they can find a
way to market them, so they are easily recognized, they can grow their fanbase
through involvement. The youth market is important for the NHL to target, since
generally, that is when people become fans of sports.

 

 

 

            Each
of the consumer research exhibits (10-20) tell us something different about the
NHL and its fan base. Exhibit 10 shows that of the surveyed, the U.S total that
consider hockey to be their favorite sport was 6%. The largest demographic that
said hockey was their favorite sport was U.S teen males. Football is the
overall favorite sport, with 28% total considering it their favorite sport. Exhibit
11 shows that the total amount of men and women not really interested in hockey
was 57.2% from 1784 people surveyed. Exhibit 13 shows the comparison of hockey
fans in the US and Canada. The total percentage of big fans in the US was 9.7
and the total percentage of people not really interested in the US was 61.1. On
Canada’s side, 36.1% consider themselves big fans of hockey and only 16.9% are
not really interested. These numbers are dramatically different. The figures in
exhibit 15 tell us that the majority of people first became interested in NHL
hockey because they first watched it on TV. This was true for both the people
surveyed in Canada and the US. However, the next largest category was in Canada
where people said they first became interested in NHL hockey was because it is
part of Canadian culture. I think that exhibit 15 best showcases the need for
the grassroot marketing strategy. If we can get the US side of how people first
became interested in hockey to mirror Canadas side, then the NHL fanbase should
grow. Almost everyone in Canada plays/played some form of hockey growing up and
continue to watch and support the NHL. Exhibit 16 and 17 show us that people
are not actively watching the NHL on TV when they can. Exhibit 18 and 19 show
us that most people either don’t know what channel the NHL is played on, or if
they do they only found out about it by having the channel on already. All the
exhibits relate to one issue: people are simply not that interested in the NHL.
The grassroots marketing strategy can help the NHL become a sport that people want
to watch on TV.

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            Some
of the key underlying issues with the NHL is media revenues and underexposure
compared to other sports in the US. Sometimes there were issues with the NHL
and individual teams in choosing a local station for game coverage. This lead
to the most lucrative local television coverage option being restricted,
pay-per-view cable stations. With pay-per-view, owners could maximize their
revenues, but limit the exposure and awareness of the NHL. I also don’t know many
people that would pay extra to watch a regular season NHL game. By growing the
NHL fanbase, it will allow local television stations to see that these games
are something that their customers want to watch at home on their TVs. By
increasing the amount of people who watch the NHL on TV, the media revenue for
the league and individual teams will increase. Another underlying issue is underexposure.
Exhibit 11 showcases how many people are fans of hockey in comparison to football,
baseball, and basketball. Football is the leading sport in the US that most
people are big fans of and support. If the NHL can market itself like the NFL does
and get more fans involved in the sport, they can increase their exposure. People
just don’t seem to be interested in hockey as much as the NHL would like. The
sport doesn’t come off as open and inviting as other sports such as football or
baseball. Hockey can often be seen as a sport that is violent and not very
family friendly. It is also hard for a middle-class family to be able to afford
to go to a hockey game with how high their ticket prices are and other additional
costs such as parking and concessions. Putting hockey in schools and having middle
school and high school hockey teams can increase the fan base and in turn lead
to more people wanting to spend money to watch their favorite NHL team.

 

 

            My
overarching strategic plan for the NHL is to grow its fan base through grassroots
marketing. They need to market the sport to younger people as a game that
everyone can play. Whether it be in gym shoes, rollerblades or ice skates, each
form of hockey will hopefully lead to an increase interest in the NHL. Incorporating
hockey into elementary school gym class will give kids awareness of the sport. They
will then be more than likely inclined to go home and want to play hockey with
their friends and family and eventually watch it on TV. In my own experience
everyone that I know to be sports fans became fans as a child. If you never
played sports, you probably won’t have any real interest in them unless one of
your parents is or someone you support plays sports. By having the NHL market
themselves to younger generations, they can grow up loving the sport and then
teach their kids to love the sport as well. Kids are often encouraged to go play
outside and be active. The NHL can build on this and encourage kids to play street
hockey or roller hockey. By doing this they will be able to make a positive impact
on children’s lives by inspiring a healthy lifestyle. The grassroots marketing approach
will take time to see any type of increase in revenue for the NHL and increase of
the fanbase, but if it pays off it will definitely be worth the wait. By having
kids play hockey, they will feel more of a connection when watching the NHL. Professional
hockey players can also develop youth programs that give the kids a role model to
look up to. This will be beneficial in reshaping the image of the NHL and ultimately
create a larger fan base.

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