NHL partnership fee breaks billion dollar barrier with addition of banks and beer
The National Hockey League has passed the billion-dollar barrier on partnerships, signing deals with banks and liquor companies for the 2021-22 season, according to review platform SponsorUnited.
About $400 million came from financial institutions, the company said. At the league level, the NHL has agreements with the Navy Federal Credit Union, Discover and Scotiabank Canada. The deals have increased sponsorship revenue by 63% compared to last season. NHL clubs made a total of $623 million in 2021, according to SponsorUnited data provided to Forbes.
Before the pandemic, NHL clubs were nearly over $1 billion in fees. SponsorUnited said teams collected $906 million in fees for the 2019-20 season, up from $936 million the previous year.
SponsorUnited is a marketing company that tracks professional sports sponsorships. Investors include Marc Lasry, president of Avenue Capital Group and owner of Milwaukee Bucks and co-owner of San Diego Padres, Ron Fowler.
The company’s estimates support league commissioner Gary Bettman’s claim that the NHL would make more than $5 billion in revenue this season. That’s up from the $4.6 billion reported last year, when revenue was hit by the pandemic. The league also benefited from a larger media rights deal. In 2021, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery agreed to pay the NHL approximately $625 million per year in fees. This is an increase from the previous $300 million broadcast deal with NBCUniversal.
NHL Chief Commercial Officer Keith Wachtel said Forbes that SponsorUnited’s estimates were accurate but did not discuss specifics. However, he cited an expanded cast for growth. Wachtel said the NHL’s female viewership was up 61% on ESPN and Turner Sports compared to its last year on NBC Sports.
The NHL ends its first season on ESPN at the end of the Stanley Cup Finals with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche. The Lightning are aiming for a third straight championship. ESPN said an average of 4.2 million viewers watched the Avalanche win Game 1 of the series on Wednesday.
By comparison, the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals series between the Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens on NBC Sports averaged 2.5 million viewers. That’s up from an average of 2 million viewers who watched the 2020 series. The 2019 Stanley Cup Finals featuring the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues averaged more than 5 million viewers.