By | June 25, 2022
NHL enjoys sustained growth among younger female fans

The NHL’s biggest story this season is the rise in TV viewers during the first year of television contracts with ESPN/TNT. The league is also experiencing unprecedented growth in younger and female fans, which should have a significant impact on the future.

NHL research shows that 37% of hockey fans are women, with a staggering 26% increase in this demographic since 2016. Nearly 40% of NHL fans are below 50.

Kali Mack, an Avalanche fan living in Colorado who is part of the league’s Power Players youth advisory boards — stated that the league’s recent growth has been due to the inclusion of more human aspects of the game.

She said, “We’re seeing more interviews with players, family moments, and the heartfelt things that take place off the ice as well as this mixture of the great highlights we’re also viewing.” It’s been great to get more people involved in the game, as people who aren’t familiar with the sport will be more able to connect with the human moments. The highlights will then keep their attention.

TNT’s Wednesday night games saw a higher increase in female viewers. The regular season saw a 44% increase in female viewers compared with previous years when the games were aired via NBCSN.

Heidi Browning, NHL’s top marketing officer and senior vice president, stated that “not only do we want our avid fans to love the content, but we also want to share it with casual fans and new fans, and make sure they feel welcomed.”

Social media is an important part of the effort to build connections. The league entered into a content partnership agreement with TikTok, while Turner’s agreement allowed Bleacher Report to expand its coverage and launch the B/R Open Ice vertical. Bleacher Report’s hockey website saw its highest page view month of 35.8 million page views in May, and engagement tripled compared to last.

Browning is also happy with the NHL’s young fan base. According to League research, 80% of its digital users are Gen Z or millennials. The Power Players board was created in 2019 and seeks opinions from fans and social media influencers between the ages of 13-17.

Aiden Gunn, who also serves on the board, highlighted the importance of marketing changes for growth.

“They have a less professional approach in their marketing. That is what I mean. He said that it’s much more personal. “Social media is essentially an elevator pitch. You have only two seconds to grab someone’s attention. That’s what I believe (in) the NHL is reflected in their recent marketing strategy. They have done much better in sprucing all their content.”

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