Monday, September 26, 2011

Could the NHL See New Fans As A Result of NBA Lockout?

It has been asked quite often: could the NHL see a boost in interest if the NBA misses time?

It's tough to see a scenario where the NHL attracts new fans that are only watching because there is no NBA.

To make my point - let me flip it around for those of you that are hockey fans: when the NHL locked out its players for an entire season in 2004-05, did you turn to the NBA for entertainment if in fact you were not a fan of the NBA? Probably not.

Sports fans who like hockey and basketball will watch hockey during the NBA lockout, just like they were able to multi-task last season by watching both. Similarly, those that don't like hockey are unlikely to gravitate to the sport.

However, I do see a possible boost for the NHL by way of the reallocation of sponsor and corporate dollars. Money that would have gone to the NBA could be redirected by businesses to the NHL by way of luxury suites, tickets and advertisements. A number of NHL and NBA teams play in the same arena, and so it could be a rather seamless transition for a business, that once invested its marketing budget in basketball, to say yes to hockey.

As well, some fans in the past may have decided to spend their money on NBA games over NHL despite being a fan of the NHL. So there could also be a boost in attendance and ticket revenue from existing fans who previously preferred to spend their disposable income on the NBA. This also includes fans attending more NHL games.

Finally, we could also see a boost in TV ratings. With busy schedules and family responsibilities, fans may not have had the time to watch as much NHL hockey as they wanted to. However, if the NBA is out the picture so to speak, fans may be able to watch more hockey.

So a significant number of new fans? Doesn't seem likely. Still, it may convert existing casual fans into more committed fans.

Higher TV, ad and ticket revenue? Absolutely.

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