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The PWHL Scores Big with Sponsors & Seizes the Explosive Momentum of Women’s Pro Sports

February 7, 2024

The Professional Women's Hockey League (PWHL) took to the ice for the first time on January 1st, 2024, as New York defeated Toronto in the hotly anticipated kick-off of the 2024 regular season. Six teams—Boston, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, and Toronto—will each compete 24 times during a 72-game schedule that’s poised to launch a thrilling new era of women’s hockey. 

A fledgling force in the sports world, the PWHL exemplifies a unique blend of emerging and established brand partnerships that are reshaping the landscape of the women's game. A key case in point: Woody Creek, the Colorado-based distillery that became the league’s first US Premier Partner in its inaugural season, and whose involvement with the PWHL has been a catalyst for the league’s rapidly growing visibility. The brand’s high-profile assets include TV-visible dasher board signage, its role as the presenting partner of the end-of-season PWHL Awards, and sponsor the “Player to Watch” during broadcasts.

"Brands that have invested in the PWHL have signaled their confidence in the success of professional women’s sports, and believe in the valuable return that working with this league can provide," says Paul Gugliucci, Senior Manager of Corporate Partnerships for the PWHL. "No collaboration is alike, and the PWHL is making it a point to bring new ideas to the table for potential partners.”

The league’s strategy of partnering with emerging brands like Woody Creek demonstrates the PWHL’s nimble, efficient approach to securing sponsorships—but it also doesn't shy away from collaborations with larger, more established names. Following in the NHL’s footsteps, its partners already include marquee brands like Canadian Tire, Hyundai, and Rogers, amplifying its credibility and reach. Canadian Tire specifically shines as a major sponsor, its presence magnified through multiple assets like media backdrops, dasher board signage, and the secondary jersey logo. The brand’s sponsorship of the inaugural PWHL draft and the Players of the Game call-out on the broadcasts, along with the recent 3-on-3 exhibition showcase at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, underscores its sizable role in promoting the league.

3-on-3 exhibition showcase at Scotiabank Arena

Viewer engagement with women's sports is on the rise—a trend reflected in the PWHL's audience numbers. With 2.9M viewers in Canada alone, the league has successfully maintained momentum five weeks into the season. Its burgeoning interest in attracting new brands—especially those formerly absent from hockey, like Rheem and Woody Creek—speaks to its willingness to explore a wide range of partnerships. The league's deal structures are also noteworthy—a mix of one- and three-year agreements, demonstrating the PWHL's confidence in its own growth.

Woody Creek
Woody Creek Jersey Sponsorship

Ownership is another arena where the PWHL is breaking new ground. The league owns all six teams and player rights under an eight-year agreement—an innovative model that extends to player endorsements and appearances, integrating them into contracts at a set rate by the league and ensuring equitable distribution among partners. The league's unique “Jailbreak” trademark—where a scoring team in a penalty kill situation releases the player from the penalty box—adds an exciting twist to the game. In just its premier  season on the ice, the PWHL is not only elevating women’s ice hockey and expanding its audience, but also empowering young female hockey players to set their sights on a  professional career in the sport.

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