I believethat the NHL should grow its fan base through grassroots marketing. Thegrassroots market approach will in turn create a larger audience who watchesthe NHL on television. If the NHL wants their fan base to grow, they need tostart marketing to younger generations rather than just focusing on the historyof the sport. In Marketing the National Hockey League, Rick Dudley says “Thebest way to create a fan is to play the game.
In the past, hockey wasrestricted to an ice surface. Today, the game of hockey is no longer confinedto ice rinks or frozen ponds, but is being played in increasing numbers on thestreets, in the parks, and on gymnasium floors all across America.” Kids in elementaryschool should be playing hockey in gym class with sticks and pucks and theirgym shoes. By introducing kids to hockey, they will be more likely to be a fanof it as they grow older. In places that don’t have much of a winter, likeArizona, hockey is not very popular.
Roller hockey is a sport that could be playedmore practically in these locations and then the NHL can be introduced throughroller hockey. The case also discussed the NHL’s grassroots programs they hadin place. NHL Breakout, Nike/NHL Street, and Allstar Weekend/ NHL FANtasy arethe 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 away to market them, so they are easily recognized, they can grow their fanbasethrough involvement.
The youth market is important for the NHL to target, sincegenerally, that is when people become fans of sports. Eachof the consumer research exhibits (10-20) tell us something different about theNHL and its fan base. Exhibit 10 shows that of the surveyed, the U.
S total thatconsider hockey to be their favorite sport was 6%. The largest demographic thatsaid hockey was their favorite sport was U.S teen males. Football is theoverall favorite sport, with 28% total considering it their favorite sport. Exhibit11 shows that the total amount of men and women not really interested in hockeywas 57.
2% from 1784 people surveyed. Exhibit 13 shows the comparison of hockeyfans in the US and Canada. The total percentage of big fans in the US was 9.7and the total percentage of people not really interested in the US was 61.1. OnCanada’s side, 36.
1% consider themselves big fans of hockey and only 16.9% arenot really interested. These numbers are dramatically different.
The figures inexhibit 15 tell us that the majority of people first became interested in NHLhockey because they first watched it on TV. This was true for both the peoplesurveyed in Canada and the US. However, the next largest category was in Canadawhere people said they first became interested in NHL hockey was because it ispart of Canadian culture. I think that exhibit 15 best showcases the need forthe grassroot marketing strategy. If we can get the US side of how people firstbecame interested in hockey to mirror Canadas side, then the NHL fanbase shouldgrow. Almost everyone in Canada plays/played some form of hockey growing up andcontinue to watch and support the NHL.
Exhibit 16 and 17 show us that peopleare not actively watching the NHL on TV when they can. Exhibit 18 and 19 showus that most people either don’t know what channel the NHL is played on, or ifthey do they only found out about it by having the channel on already. All theexhibits 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 wantto watch on TV.
Someof the key underlying issues with the NHL is media revenues and underexposurecompared to other sports in the US. Sometimes there were issues with the NHLand individual teams in choosing a local station for game coverage. This leadto the most lucrative local television coverage option being restricted,pay-per-view cable stations. With pay-per-view, owners could maximize theirrevenues, but limit the exposure and awareness of the NHL.
I also don’t know manypeople that would pay extra to watch a regular season NHL game. By growing theNHL fanbase, it will allow local television stations to see that these gamesare something that their customers want to watch at home on their TVs. Byincreasing the amount of people who watch the NHL on TV, the media revenue forthe 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 mostpeople are big fans of and support.
If the NHL can market itself like the NFL doesand get more fans involved in the sport, they can increase their exposure. Peoplejust don’t seem to be interested in hockey as much as the NHL would like. Thesport doesn’t come off as open and inviting as other sports such as football orbaseball.
Hockey can often be seen as a sport that is violent and not veryfamily friendly. It is also hard for a middle-class family to be able to affordto go to a hockey game with how high their ticket prices are and other additionalcosts such as parking and concessions. Putting hockey in schools and having middleschool and high school hockey teams can increase the fan base and in turn leadto more people wanting to spend money to watch their favorite NHL team.
Myoverarching strategic plan for the NHL is to grow its fan base through grassrootsmarketing. They need to market the sport to younger people as a game thateveryone can play. Whether it be in gym shoes, rollerblades or ice skates, eachform of hockey will hopefully lead to an increase interest in the NHL. Incorporatinghockey into elementary school gym class will give kids awareness of the sport.
Theywill then be more than likely inclined to go home and want to play hockey withtheir friends and family and eventually watch it on TV. In my own experienceeveryone that I know to be sports fans became fans as a child. If you neverplayed sports, you probably won’t have any real interest in them unless one ofyour parents is or someone you support plays sports. By having the NHL marketthemselves to younger generations, they can grow up loving the sport and thenteach their kids to love the sport as well. Kids are often encouraged to go playoutside and be active. The NHL can build on this and encourage kids to play streethockey or roller hockey.
By doing this they will be able to make a positive impacton children’s lives by inspiring a healthy lifestyle. The grassroots marketing approachwill take time to see any type of increase in revenue for the NHL and increase ofthe fanbase, but if it pays off it will definitely be worth the wait. By havingkids play hockey, they will feel more of a connection when watching the NHL. Professionalhockey players can also develop youth programs that give the kids a role model tolook up to. This will be beneficial in reshaping the image of the NHL and ultimatelycreate a larger fan base.