NHL Thrilled With Buzz, Profit From All-Star Weekend

NEW YORK (February 2, 2011) – The NHL® All-Star weekend, highlighted by the first ever NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft powered by Cisco, was a huge success for the League, earning significant increases in viewership in Canada and the United States, a 42 percent increase in sponsorship revenue over the last All-Star Game in the U.S., an all-time record for video starts on NHL.com and the best retail performance for a U.S.-based All-Star Game in seven years.


The NHL captivated the city of Raleigh for three days as fans tailgated, flocked downtown and more than 31,000 people attended the NHL Fan Fair™ event. On Sunday, a sold out RBC Center watched as Team Lidstrom, captained by Detroit Red Wings stalwart Nicklas Lidstrom, edged Team Staal, captained by Eric Staal of the host Carolina Hurricanes, 11-10.


“By all measures, this was one of the NHL’s most successful All-Star weekends ever with fans and our corporate partners embracing the event in a big way,” said NHL COO John Collins. “Our hosts in Raleigh did a tremendous job and it was gratifying to see the entire community energized around hockey. Our new innovation, the Player Fantasy Draft, was a huge hit. The Skills Challenge and the All-Star Game saw substantial viewership and digital increases. Without a doubt, All-Star Weekend remains one of the League’s most important platforms to celebrate hockey in the host community, promote our best players to a global audience and to provide a pathway for our corporate partners to invest in the sport.”


The success of NHL All-Star presented by Discover continues the League’s momentum created in part by its big events. The recent Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® was the most-watched U.S. NHL regular season game in the last 36 years and generated a 20 percent increase in sponsorship revenue. The NHL’s big event strategy is driving significant growth and, as announced last week, the League is on pace to set an all-time revenue record for the fifth consecutive year.


The NHL’s next major event will be held on Feb. 20, as the NHL will conduct the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ (CBC, VERSUS). The outdoor game features the Calgary Flames hosting the Montreal Canadiens at McMahon Stadium. Feb. 20 is also “Hockey Day in America,” a celebration of the roots of hockey, which includes NBC providing regional coverage of a slate of games.


Below are highlights from NHL All-Star:



VERSUS scored its most watched NHL All-Star game in the network’s history, averaging nearly 1.5 million viewers, a 36 percent increase over the 2009 All-Star Game. The telecast, which peaked at nearly 2 million viewers, more than doubled the viewership for the 2007 All-Star Game on VERSUS (691,000). The All-Star game telecast propelled VERSUS to the No. 1-rated cable network in the time period among Men 18-34 and No. 2-rated cable network among Men 18-49 and Men 25-54. VERSUS was the No. 1 rated cable network in several cities, including Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia.


VERSUS also saw significant gains in viewership for the Honda NHL SuperSkills®, averaging 1.18 million viewers on VERSUS, the most watched NHL SuperSkills competition on cable since 2003 and a 35 percent increase over 2009 (875,000).


The debut of the NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft™ powered by Cisco on Friday night was also a success with fans as the telecast averaged 624,000 viewers, up 107 percent from the 2010-11 NHL regular-season average on VERSUS (302,000 viewers).


On CBC, both the NHL All-Star Game and Honda NHL SuperSkills® were record-setters. The 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover on CBC’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA drew an average audience of 2.389 million viewers, the highest for an All-Star Game on HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA and a 56 percent increase over 2009 (1.527 million). The previous best was 1.67 million viewers for the 1999 All-Star Game, which is as far back as records were kept.


Honda NHL SuperSkills also was a record-setter, drawing an audience of 2.446 million viewers and peaking at more than three million. The average audience was 78 percent higher than the previous high of the 1.371 million that tuned in to the last NHL SuperSkills Competition, held in Montreal in 2009.


TSN’s coverage of the first-ever NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft powered by Cisco averaged 1.5 million viewers for its 90-minute Friday night primetime broadcast and won the night on Canadian television in all key demographics.



The new All-Star format was a significant driver of corporate interest for the League, with Discover becoming the first presenting sponsor of the NHL All-Star Game in a decade and Cisco signing on as presenting sponsor of the NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft. Honda was title sponsor of the NHL SuperSkills competition. Overall, sponsorship revenue was up 12 percent over the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal (there was no 2010 NHL All-Star Game as NHL players participated in the Vancouver Olympics) and 42 percent over the last All-Star Game in the U.S. (2008, Atlanta). A record number of NHL partners advertised on VERSUS’ All-Star coverage and Discover launched an NHL-themed spot during All-Star Weekend. Phil Kessel, the last selection in the player draft, was surprised with a new Honda.



Overall retail sales were the best for an All-Star Game held in the United States in seven years and the third best in history for U.S.-based games. Sales were up 20 percent over the 2008 game in Atlanta and up 27 percent over Dallas.


All-Star Youth/Infant/Toddler apparel sales were the best in seven years and up 98 percent over the 2008 Atlanta All-Star and up 150 percent over 2009 in Montreal. Sales were partially driven by the success of The Guardian Project™ merchandise with Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes super hero character apparel selling out.



This year’s NHL All-Star Game showed double- and triple-digit percentage increases in key NHL.com metrics over the 2009 event and set an all-time record for video starts on Sunday, the day of the NHL All-Star Game.


Sunday video starts shattered the month-old record by 26 percent and was 192 percent higher than the season average. Sunday’s video starts represented a 302-percent increase over the 2009 NHL All-Star Game.


Unique visitors for NHL All-Star Weekend were up 67 percent over 2009 and unique visitors for Sunday’s NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover were up 61 percent over 2009.



There was a 920 percent increase in votes for the Blackberry NHL Breakaway Challenge™ during the Honda NHL SuperSkills competition over 2009.



NHL on Facebook: Acquired 5 times more fans during these three days in 2011 versus 2010.


@NHL on Twitter: During All-Star Weekend, acquired 80 percent more new followers than is typical over a three-day period during the 10-11 season.


#NHLAllStar was the top organic tweet in Canada during both Skills and All-Star Game .


More than 76,000 registered voters cast approximately 1.2 million votes in the Guardian 30 Match-Up, a 30-day Facebook fan engagement initiative that enabled fans to determine the order in which each team’s Guardian was unveiled. During the NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover, The Guardian Project™ was the No. 1 search term in the U.S. on Google Trends.



“With the sports world raving about the innovative player draft at this past weekend’s NHL All-Star Game, the focus now shifts to other sports that have gotten heat over outdated and uninteresting formats.” – CBSSports.com


“Officially the most exciting All-Star format in professional sports.” – Yahoo Sports


“A brilliant innovation.” – Yahoo Sports on the Player Draft


“Raleigh will be a tough All-Star act to follow…What a party it was…The bar has been raised high by the friendly folks in Raleigh.” – Ottawa Citizen


“There were many good things about the event in Raleigh. Even for the most cynical media types, it was hard not to feel a good deal of affection for the new innovation.” – ESPN.com


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