Today the NHL announced that they have reached two new broadcast agreements which will increase the amount of NHL coverage seen in countries such as the Ukraine, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The deals, both of which will last for the next five seasons, allows the NHL to spread its image through parts of Europe where NHL coverage was lacking or previously nonexistent.
NHL fans abroad rejoice – this is potentially huge news for you. The specific deal for the Ukraine will show up to 15 live NHL games each week on a new hockey specific channel that recently launched. Fans in the Ukraine will see live NHL action for the first time in three years. The other large deal which will impact Bosnia, Croatia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia will allow fans to see multiple live NHL games throughout the week.
While this is obviously a significant move for NHL fans in each of these respective countries it is also a huge move for the NHL as a corporation. Just like any other business, the NHL is constantly looking for ways to improve and expand its brand. With Russia’s KHL expanding, the NHL needed a move like this to reclaim parts of Europe that may have previously gone overlooked.
As a brand, this move for the NHL is huge. It brings future marketing opportunities, future merchandise sales from new fans as a result of the expanded coverage as well as some intangible opportunities that may take time to come to light. For example, if a young rising hockey star from the Ukraine emerged on the scene, growing up without having easy access to NHL coverage, he may be less inclined to come over to the NHL and opt for the KHL instead. This expanded television coverage could capture the minds and imaginations of talent that will come down the pipeline in the future – an outcome that could pay big dividends to the NHL.
As a hockey fan, I’m thrilled to see the NHL expanding their reach. We have seen the NHL and other leagues play games abroad, which is a nice event for fans abroad to attend, but it pales in comparison to having access to regular season games numerous times a week.
Nice work NHL, now go work on extending the collective bargaining agreement.