Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Diluting The product?
1) Our reaction to the NHL's greed in adding outdoor games after five successful Winter Classics, was we were skeptical that this would work out.. The Winter Classic will kick off the games on New Year's Day, as Toronto and Detroit meet at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. In later January, between the Superbowl run up: Anaheim will face off against the Kings at Dodger Stadium in the first outdoor game staged by the NHL west of the Mississippi. Then, Yankee Stadium will host a pair of games with the Rangers, one against the Devils on Jan. 26 and against the Islanders three days later. In March, Chicago's Soldier Field will host the Blackhawks and Penguins, and Ottawa and Vancouver will take an outdoor game to Vancouver's BC Place.
2) The Winter Classic has become the crown jewel of the NHL's season. From 2008 through 2012, the Winter Classic at times eclipsed both the NHL All-Star Game and several playoff matchups. For example, according to StubHub, the 2011 Winter Classic outsold Games 2, 3, 5 and 7 of the Stanley Cup finals that season. Previously, the 2010 Winter Classic outsold Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, and the 2008 Winter Classic was the second-best-selling game of the entire regular season.When it comes to television ratings, the Winter Classic has also bested the All-Star Game and some Stanley Cup games.
3) The 2011 Winter Classic (in Pittsburgh with the Pens playing the rival Capitals) was played in prime time because of weather, which pitted it against the Fiesta Bowl and the Rose Bowl. Regardless, the Winter Classic saw its ratings rise by 8 percent to a 2.9, dominating the 1.2 from the All-Star Game. The 2011 Winter Classic also had better ratings than Games 1 and 3 of the 2010 Stanley Cup finals.. Can that success be duplicated with five additional outdoor games, however?
The Winter Classic will always be a special national game on the New Year's Day holiday where everyone celebrates the game no matter your rooting interests.WE understand the reasoning that the Stadium Series is focused more on lighting up the local market and community at a different time of the year. When you attend these events and witness the impact on the club's popularity, TV ratings, merchandise, media coverage, fan engagement and, maybe most important of all, the millions of dollars of revenue generated in the local economy, the games are way too important to wait 10 or 15 years either to return or to wait for a turn to host.
4) The NHL says these additional games aren't all about the teams, however. They're also potentially part of a larger strategy by the league for a bigger television contract next time around.
The games are events that will capture eyeballs, possibly on national television, which is extremely valuable for the NHL. The league does a fairly good job of generating revenues via game-day attendance -- with the exception of a few franchises in small non-hockey markets -- but the real payoff for the league would be a bigger national television contract. While some of our insiders tell us that indeed the outdoor games are part of a strategy to get a larger television contract, it clearly is premature right now since the NHL's current television contract with NBC expires following the 2020-2021 season. In our opinion the NHL has 'jumped the shark' and displayed greed that will haunt them when there is diminishing return when they try this multiple out door game strategy annually