Winter Classic Drives NHL to More Success

NEW YORK (January 5, 2011) – The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, which earned the best regular season U.S. television viewership in 36 years, also drove significant business growth and fan engagement across all NHL® platforms.

 

In its fourth year, the NHL Winter Classic, showed double- and triple-digit gains in all key metrics on NHL.com and NHL.com Mobile, while fueling retail growth of 78 percent. As further evidence of the growing popularity of the NHL Winter Classic franchise from both a consumer and business standpoint, all network advertising was sold out well ahead of the broadcast on NBC, and all sponsorship opportunities were sold out as well. Sponsorship revenue for the event finished up 20 percent over last year. The viewership for the U.S. broadcast on NBC gained 22 percent over last year’s New Year’s Day outdoor game. The game attracted a sellout crowd of 68,111 at Heinz Field as the Washington Capitals defeated the host Penguins 3-1.

 

“The impact of the NHL Winter Classic goes well beyond television,” said NHL COO John Collins. “The event greatly enhances all of our global businesses, from NHL.com and NHL Network™, to advertising and sponsorship, and of course, the NHL Winter Classic delivered significant economic impact to Pittsburgh. The NHL Winter Classic has quickly earned its place as a New Year’s Day tradition and one of the most anticipated major national sports events of the year.”

 

Merchandise Sales Growth:

The substantial growth in NHL Winter Classic merchandise sales mirrors the increased profile of the event and the global demand for all things NHL. Some highlights from the 2011 NHL Winter Classic:

 

· NHL Winter Classic retail merchandise sales increased by 78% over 2010

· The entire inventory of 38,000 NHL Winter Classic jerseys sold out, representing a 17% increase from year before

· Stadium concession sales were up 24%

· Other categories showing significant growth: (All Apparel: +41%; Children’s Apparel: +107%, Youth Jerseys: + 150%; Women’s Apparel, +56% ; Gift and Novelty Sales (driven by “Terrible Towels): +282%

 

“The NHL Winter Classic was a successful venture for Dick’s Sporting Goods,” said William Colombo, Vice Chairman of Dick’s Sporting Goods. “We were proud to be a Presenting Sponsor of this year’s game. Our partnership with the NHL and Reebok enabled us to offer a great assortment of Winter Classic product in our Dick’s stores in Pittsburgh and Washington, our temporary Winter Classic pop-up store in downtown Pittsburgh and our mobile store on-site at the NHL’s Spectator Plaza next to Heinz Field.”

 

Reebok – Official Outfitter Highlights:

Winter Classic sales at the NHL Store Powered by Reebok were up 59% led by jersey sales (+121%) and T-shirts (+79%).

 

Shop.NHL.com Sees Big Gains:

On Shop.NHL.com, the NHL’s official online retail outlet, sales increased by 61% year over year, with a 33% increase in units sold. Leading the way were jerseys (+107%), player apparel (+105%) and women’s apparel (+93%).

 

Growth was driven by the increase in popularity of the NHL Winter Classic franchise, heavy promotional support from NHL-controlled media and the matchup of two of the game’s best teams and biggest superstars in Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.

 

NHL.com on New Year’s Day/Comparisons to Past NHL Winter Classics:

· Unique Visitors: 1.2 mm (+30% vs. ’10)

· Video Starts: +147% vs. ’10

· Visits: +31% vs. ’10

 

NHL.com Mobile NHL Winter Classic Performance:

· NHL Winter Classic drove best day of season to NHL mobile site.

 

Social Media Activation Highlights:

Note: The NHL activated a unique promotional campaign that integrated Facebook into NBC’s New Year’s Day broadcast of the NHL Winter Classic through a “Watch and Win” promotion.

 

· Facebook Referrals to NHL.com: +83% over Jan. 1, 2010

· Driven by the Facebook/NBC “Watch and Win” Campaign, December 28 was the highest referring day ever for Facebook to NHL.com

· The NHL Winter Classic peaked at No. 6 in global trending on Twitter on New Year’s Day

· January 1 was the second highest day for Twitter referrals in NHL.com history

 

RDS:

The French-language broadcast of the NHL Winter Classic on RDS in Canada drew 304,000 viewers up 2% over last year and earned an 11 share.

 

U.S. Television:

The NHL Winter Classic on NBC (8-11 p.m. ET) was the most-viewed NHL regular season game in 36 years with an average of 4.5 million watching in primetime. The 4.5 million viewers represents a 22-percent increase over last year’s game played in Boston’s Fenway Park (3.7 million viewers).

 

The 2.3 national rating and 4 share for the NHL Winter Classic achieved a 10 percent increase from last year (2.1/4, 1-4 p.m. ET). The game earned a 32.0/46 in Pittsburgh and a 7.6/13 in Washington D.C. The 32.0 rating in Pittsburgh is up a whopping 81 percent over the inaugural NHL Winter Classic in 2008 that featured the Penguins and earned a 17.7 in the market.

 

 

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How the Winter Classic Did in Each NHL Market

This research, drummed up by the essential Son of the Bronx, ranks each of the 21 markets in their ratings for the Winter Classic. Note, obviously, that market size is not taken into account for this, so a smaller market with a higher share may end up with higher numbers than a bigger market. Note that his numbers for the Denver market are different from what NBC reported. I’ll try to get to the bottom of it at some point today.

1. Pittsburgh – 32.4/47 (Peak: 9:15-9:30 – 34.9.48)
2. Washington – 7.9/14 (Peak: 10:30-11:00 – 8.9/16)
3. Buffalo – 5.3/8 (Peak: 10:30-10:45 – 7.1/11)
4. St. Louis – 4.3/7 (Peak: 8:30-8:45 – 5.0/8)
t5. Detroit – 4.2/7 (Peak: 8:15-8:30 – 5.4/9)
t5. Minneapolis/St. Paul – 4.2/7 (Peak: 10:45-11 – 5.3/10)
7.  Boston –
3.9/7 (Peak: 8:15-8:30 – 5.5/9)
t8. Philadelphia – 3.4/5 (Peak: 8:30-8:45 – 4.1/7)
t8. Columbus – 3.4/5 (Peak: 9:15-9:30 – 4.4/7)
10. New York* – 2.9/4 (Peak: 10:00-10:30 – 3.5/6)
11. Chicago – 2.5/4 (Peak: 10:45-11:00 – 3.3/6)
t12. Nashville –
2.4/3 (Peak: 8:00-8:15 – 3.1/5)
t12. Denver – 2.4/3 (Peak: 8:30-8:45 – 2.6/4)
14. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose – 2.1/4 (Peak: 8:15-8:30 – 2.9/7)
t15. Los Angeles – 1.6/3 (Peak: 10:15-10:30 – 2.0/4)
t15. Phoenix – 1.6/3 (Peak: 8:15-8:45 – 2.0/4)
17. Tampa/St. Petersburg –
1.5/3 (Peak: 8:00-8:15 – 2.2/4)
18. Dallas –
1.2/2 (Peak: 8:15-8:30 – 1.6/3)
19. Raleigh Durham –
1.1/2 (Peak: 8:15-8:30, 1.9/3)
20.
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale – 1.0/2 (Peak: 8-8:15 – 1.4/3) 
21. Atlanta –
0.5/1 (Peak: 10:45-11:00 – 1.2/2)
– Market contains multiple NHL teams.