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2018 NHL Playoff Advertising Just Breaks the Ice

2018 NHL Playoff Advertising Just Breaks the Ice

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Almost exactly one year ago, we discussed the National Hockey League (NHL) and the impact that seamless ad integration and integrated advertising, had on hockey in general and the league itself.

While effective, the NHL’s experiments like in-rink board ads and jersey patches were mere expansions of things that already existed. The ads, for example, just built on the empty, white space around hockey rinks.

With the patches, the league was just following in the footsteps of the National Basketball Association (NBA) since it seems like jersey ads are low-hanging fruit for the NHL. “Eighteen NBA teams have deals to display small jersey patches on the front of their uniforms, with the Golden State Warriors’ deal with Rakuten reaching $20 million per year,” reports the Sport Business Journal. Now, the NHL has started selling sponsorships on practice jerseys and even displayed SAP‘s logo on jerseys during the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, notes the same article.

But, NHL in-rink board ads and jersey patch ads are not what we want to talk about this time around. Today, TV ads during the 2018 sports playoffs are at the forefront of our minds.

Advertisers spent over $3 billion in total buying TV ads during playoff games across four major U.S. sports – the NHL, the NBA, the National Football League (NFL), and Major League Baseball (MLB) – in 2018.

While the NHL tied with the NBA in terms of playing the highest number of playoff games, the league captured the smallest share of 2018 playoff advertising spend. The NHL played 80 playoff games in 2018, but only earned 4% of the pie, as shown by the chart below.

Share of 2018 Playoff Advertising Spend pie chart
A pie chart, displaying how much the NHL captures out of the total share of 2018 playoff advertising spend.

Despite not gathering a large portion of the 2018 playoff advertising spend, the NHL still saw a high renewal rate. From the 2017 playoffs to the 2018 playoffs, the league produced a 54% renewal rate, meaning that the majority of advertisers that bought TV ads during the 2017 playoffs returned to also buy TV ads for last year’s playoffs.

Here are the top five companies that spent the most money advertising during the 2018 NHL playoff games:

1. Toyota

2. Honda

3. Berkshire Hathaway

4. Discover

5. AT&T

Even though some advertisers chose not to invest in TV commercials again for the 2018 NHL playoffs, the league was still able to increase its number of advertisers for that year by roughly 1%. The only other sport to do so was the NFL, as shown in this bar graph below.

Number of Playoff Advertisers by Sport YoY graph
A bar graph, detailing the number of playoff advertisers, categorized by U.S. sport year-over-year.

But Wait, There’s More!

At this point in time, we’ve covered advertising across two different U.S. sports playoffs, including the National Basketball Association as well as the National Football League. We have yet to discuss, however, the advertising surrounding other U.S. sports like Major League Baseball and the league’s World Series last year. Be sure to stay tuned for our next post, which will be about the impact advertising has had on the MLB World Series.