As reported by ESPN, the NHL is considering changes to its digitally enhanced dasherboards (DED) after facing fan criticisms during their inaugural season. DED technology enables the digital replacement of camera-visible arena ads during broadcasts with advertisers purchasing 30–second slots based on the game clock. Some fans expressed concerns about technical glitches, disruptive artificiality, and occasional disorientation caused by moving advertisements.

Keith Wachtel, the NHL's Chief Business Officer, acknowledged these critiques but mentioned that the league believes most viewers have grown comfortable with the digital ad boards. The NHL made minor adjustments to improve the viewing experience during the 2022–23 season, including changes in brightness and motion-blurring of the ads. Despite occasional complaints, the league sees the DED system as a significant enhancement compared to traditional static ads.

One notable development is the impressive increase in sponsorship revenue, as reported within our NHL 2022–23 Report which was released this past June. The report revealed a 21% year-over-year increase in NHL sponsorship revenue, with 700 unique brands including DED in the partnership asset mix. The league's success in this aspect and the positive reception from many viewers suggest that the NHL is likely to continue refining the DED system, aiming to enhance the overall viewing experience while maximizing sponsorship opportunities.

Professional hockey is having a moment, as evidenced by its record-breaking 2022-2023 season.

NHL team sponsorship revenue rose 21% over last year totaling $1.28B, outpacing growth in all other major pro sports leagues, including the NFL. This dazzling jump was fueled by a record 70 sponsors this season, including new global-level sponsors, which numbered 11 this season compared to just five brands four years ago.

Viewership is also climbing. ​​ABC and ESPN combined showed 50 NHL games this season, 22 more than last, averaging 629K viewers— a 6% increase over last year (excluding limited windows where the NHL competed with NFL broadcasts). ABC alone averaged around one million viewers for this season’s games, up 19% versus the 2021-2022 season. The first round of the NHL playoffs was the most watched of all time, up 18% over last year through the first 14 games.

In another first, the NHL unveiled jersey patch sponsorships this year, with just 13 of the league’s 32 teams having inked deals so far— presenting a prime opportunity for brands to buy into this high-profile asset. Meanwhile, the league is strategically overhauling its entire sponsorship model, creating multifaceted partnerships that showcase social causes and embrace new categories and assets— namely heavy equipment and industrial power (Caterpillar) and NFTs (Sweet)— driving ROI and elevating the fan experience.

But the NHL’s debut of digitally enhanced dasherboards (DEDs) marked arguably the most exciting introduction not only within the league, but across all professional sports this season. Seven years in the making, DEDs represent the next frontier in NHL advertising, enabling the digital replacement of camera-visible ads within local, national and international NHL game broadcasts. While the Automotive sector leads in DED exposure so far, other categories— including Sports Betting & Fantasy, whose NHL sponsorships surged a staggering 185% this season— are quickly piling on. In years to come, every broadcast of every game could feature completely different ads on the boards worldwide— a transformative technology poised to change the sponsorship game within the league and beyond, as marketers across the entire professional sports sponsorship spectrum embrace its incredible potential.

For all these reasons and more, we’re excited to present the NHL Marketing Partnerships Report 2022-2023. Authored jointly by SponsorUnited’s Marketing Research & Insights, Analytics and Marketing teams, it delivers an in-depth analysis of more than 2,300 brands, 360 assets, and over 44,000 social posts between Aug 23, 2022, and May 16, 2023.

Leading sports collectibles company Upper Deck–an NHL partner since 1990–has brought its knack for innovative activations to its role as the title sponsor for the NHL Entry Draft, which concludes today. The exclusive licensed manufacturer of NHL Trading Cards, the company is also keen to expand into the NFT space.

In keeping with its longtime strategy of boosting younger generations’ engagement with the NHL–both inside and outside the arena–Upper Deck has been drumming up excitement for the draft citywide since June 26th, when the Upper Deck truck began roaming Montreal’s streets. Free giveaways along its nine-stop route include 2022 draft exclusive 9-card player sheets, as well as mini posters of Shane Wright, Upper Deck ambassador and potential #1 draft pick. Fans were encouraged to post their truck pics on social media with the hashtag #CollectTheBest.

The fun continues inside the Bell Centre today, where Puck-O–a variation on Plinko–on the arena concourse offers kids the chance to win customized play mats, calendars, and other prizes with the purchase of one pack of Upper Deck hobby cards.

At NHL marquee events, card games–like “pack wars” to determine who has the most valuable card, and kids’ bingo with NHL mascots–have been another unique tactic for cultivating young fans. Upper Deck launched an online game during the Stanley Cup, when fans could win a free player pack by guessing the players’ identities from their descriptions.

The company was also the presenting sponsor of the Mascot Showdown at the 2022 All-Star Game, where team mascots faced off in competitions including dodgeball and broomball. Upper Deck was tagged in Instagram posts and featured with signage throughout the video along the boards of the rink.

To read more about the NHL partnerships this year, download our 2021-22 NHL Marketing & Partnerships Report .

Game 5 of the NHL Stanley Cups takes place tonight, as both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche look to take home the cup. The Finals feature different broadcasts for US and Canadian based fans, with ABC hosting the US coverage and SportsNet hosting Canadian coverage. Looking back at the first game of the series, what differences and similarities did we find between the brands and assets sponsoring the most important matchup of the NHL season?

SportsNet’s broadcast featured 46 unique brands. The top three most frequent brands and their assets during the Canadian coverage were:

  • DraftKings (Gaming)
  • Logo in Broadcast Studio
  • Live Read Commercial
  • Sponsored Segment
  • Split Screen Commercial
  • Recorded Commercial (3)

​​On Canadian broadcasts, the gaming category ranked 3rd. Didn’t crack the top 10 for US broadcasts. Reasoning would logically be legalization of single-game gambling in Canada this past August before the season started.

  • Scotiabank (Banking)
  • Period Naming Rights (Presenting Sponsor)
  • Live Read Commercial
  • Logo Pop Up
  • Recorded Commercial (3)
  • SkipTheDishes (On-Demand Delivery)
  • Sponsored Segment
  • Live Read Commercial
  • Recorded Commercial (2)

ABC’s broadcast featured 61 unique brands. The three most prominent brands from the US coverage were as follows:

  • Lexus (Luxury Car Manufacturer)
  • Intermission Report Naming Rights (Presenting Sponsor)
  • Logo in Studio
  • Live Read Commercial
  • Recorded Commercial (4)
  • GEICO (Insurance
  • Presenting Sponsor of the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals
  • Live Read Commercial
  • Logo Pop up
  • Recorded Commercial (3)
  • Verizon (Telecommunications)
  • Pregame Naming Rights (Presenting Sponsor)
  • Logo in Studio
  • Recorded Commercial (3)

Finance companies boost NHL team sponsorship revenue past the $1B mark for the first time in league history

The NHL 2021-22 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report highlights trends in sponsorships surrounding the National Hockey League, teams, athletes, and media partners. Uncover data on over 3,300 NHL partnership deals and over 2,000 active brands buying sponsorships and media in the NHL.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Finance companies boost NHL team sponsorship revenue past the $1B mark for the first time in league history.
  • This jump is a 63% increase from the $623 million in the 2020-21 season.
  • Cause-related sponsorship campaigns increased 23% year over year, with Finance brands overtaking Healthcare brands as the most active supporter of causes.On average, 10 brands activated against a cause (vs. 8 last season.)
  • The seven Canadian teams had a higher average social following compared to the 23 US teams.Brands received 2x the engagement with US teams.
  • The NHL league account posts more than any other pro sports league, in fact, 2x more than the NFL (second-most.)No team or player in the NHL has a larger social following than the league itself.
  • Banking and Beer brands were the top spenders as marquee brands continued to increase spend this season.Beer companies more than doubled their spend with NHL teams which moved the Beverage (Alcoholic) category past Healthcare to #2.

The CHL's 2022 Memorial Cup began this week, a four-team round-robin tournament held at TD Station.

We highlight the sponsorship and media activity of the four competing teams during the nine day tournament.

Memorial Cup Qualifying Teams
Sign up for SponsorUnited Weekly Newsletter
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.