Nashville Predators' local TV ratings lead NHL in growth

As part of a press release touting the NHL's growing media business across multiple platforms, the Nashville Predators were singled out for having the strongest year-to-year growth in local TV ratings throughout the league:

Eleven local Regional Sports Networks experienced double- and triple-digit growth, including:

  • Nashville (+200 percent)
  • Carolina (+125 percent)
  • Florida (+100 percent)
  • Tampa Bay (+71 percent)
  • Philadelphia (+60 percent)
  • Boston (+57 percent)
  • Minnesota (+53 percent)
  • San Jose (+44 percent)
  • Buffalo (+26 percent)
  • Edmonton (+21 percent)
  • New York Rangers (+14 percent)

Specific figures are not cited here, and previously where local TV ratings have been discussed relative to the NHL, Nashville's results have not been included. It's fair to guess that the Preds are building off a relatively small base compared to the other markets, but up is up, so we won't look a gift horse in the mouth here.

UPDATE: As reader Matt0629 noted on Twitter, one possible explanation here is the additional viewers available in the Atlanta market, who are now getting to see some Preds games. A spokesperson from the Predators said that indeed this is "one of many factors" leading to the increased viewership, along with, for example, the buzz carrying over from last spring's playoff run. Either way, kudos go out to the business side of the team for their aggressive marketing efforts on that front. Pretty much as soon as the Thrashers' relocation to Winnipeg was announced, the Preds extended an appeal to the (literally) disenfranchised hockey fans in Atlanta.

After the jump you can read the NHL's press release...

NEW YORK (December 6, 2011) – During the first quarter of the regular season, the

National Hockey League (NHL) introduced a number of new initiatives, experienced

record consumption across digital, broadcast and retail platforms while introducing a

number of new initiatives and securing a number of agreements with new and existing

corporate partners.

"We are continuing to offer new and enhanced ways for our fans to engage, consume

and interact with NHL hockey," said John Collins, NHL chief operating officer. "It is this

consistent emphasis on innovation and productive partnerships that has sustained the

growth and momentum the League has been experiencing over the past six years."

Fan Demand for Digital Content Continues to Grow

Regardless of outlet, NHL fans continue to demonstrate an increasing appetite for

everything NHL through digital platforms. This season’s digital highlights include:

NHL.com

• Through the first two months of the NHL season, Unique Visitors (UVs) to

NHL.com are up 17 percent over last season's record numbers; video starts have

increased 45 percent; page views are up 8 percent and articles read are up 27

percent.

• In November, monthly UVs were up 26 percent and video starts were up 44

percent year-over-year.

• In November, UVs were up 33 percent in the U.S. and up 11 percent in Canada;

UV's from outside North America were up 42 percent – including a remarkable

increase in the Czech Republic (+255 percent).

NHL Mobile

• Through November, NHL Mobile web saw page views increase 93 percent yearover-

year with Canada up 73 percent, the U.S. up 39 percent and outside of

North America up 357 percent. Time spent on NHL mobile has increased by 83

percent.

• Total mobile page views account for 39 percent of total digital page views since

start of season.

NHL Social

NHL fans continue to flock to social media platforms to consume content and participate

in NHL conversations.

• Through November, the League experienced a 5.2 percent increase in its social

communities (Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare.)

• Direct commerce orders driven by NHL social media properties were up 119

percent over last year.

NHL GameCenter LIVE

• As the League continues to serve fans’ demand through its premium streaming

service NHL GameCenter LIVE, subscriptions for this product are up 113

percent season-to-date compared to the same time period last year.

First Quarter Filled With TV Ratings Highlights

Eleven local Regional Sports Networks experienced double- and triple-digit growth,

including:

• Nashville (+200 percent)

• Carolina (+125 percent)

• Florida (+100 percent)

• Tampa Bay (+71 percent)

• Philadelphia (+60 percent)

• Boston (+57 percent)

• Minnesota (+53 percent)

• San Jose (+44 percent)

• Buffalo (+26 percent)

• Edmonton (+21 percent)

• New York Rangers (+14 percent)

Opening Weekend

VERSUS opened its seventh year of NHL coverage with the most-watched regular

season game in the network's history (874,000 viewers, up 20 percent over last

year’s opening game) as the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Boston Bruins, 2-1, on

the night the Bruins raised their first Stanley Cup banner in 39 years.

CBC's HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA attracted a record audience before the first

puck drop of the season, as its opening-night pre-game show on Thursday, Oct. 6,

drew nearly one million viewers (929,000) -- a 66% increase over last season. Then,

1.935 million Canadians watched the classic season-opening match-up between the

Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs - beating last year's openinggame

mark of 1.923 million.

In all, 16 million Canadians -- representing 47.7% of the total population, according to

Nielsen/BBM Canada -- watched all or part of a local or national NHL broadcast during

Opening Weekend (Thu-Sun).

NHL Merch Experiences Record-Breaking Sales for Opening of Holiday Season

Coming off another successful Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend with record

sales at the NHL Powered by Reebok Store in New York City and online at

Shop.NHL.com, merchandise sales online, in-arena and at retail locations have

increased 15 percent year-to-date. Highlights of this growth include:

• Sales at the NHL Powered By Reebok Store in New York were up 48 percent for

the opening holiday season compared with the three-day period last year and up

41 percent on Black Friday, Nov. 25

• On Dec. 3, the flagship store set a new one-day record in sales volume in its

four-year history. The Dec. 3-4 weekend also broke previous records for two-day

and weekend sales since the store's opening in October 2007. Overall, sales for

the month of November at the midtown destination increased 17 percent over

November of last year.

• Shop.NHL.com, operated by e-commerce provider Fanatics, generated 23

percent more sales than last year during the four-day Thanksgiving holiday

shopping weekend.

• Cyber Monday, Nov. 28, was the top-selling day in Shop.NHL.com history -- up

61 percent from last year and besting the previous one-day sales record set after

the Boston Bruins’ Game 7 victory to capture the 2011 Stanley Cup.

NHL Media Assets Secure New Marquee Talent

NHL Network/NHL.com

NHL Network and NHL.com have added several personalities to their rosters of talent

since the start of the season, including:

• Barry Melrose, ESPN’s signature hockey voice for 18 years, is now serving as

an NHL Network analyst at marquee League events, including the Bridgestone

NHL Winter Classic, NHL All-Star, the Stanley Cup Final, NHL Awards and the

NHL Entry Draft. Melrose is also contributing a blog – Melrose Minute – on

NHL.com.

• Kathryn Tappen, a former studio host at the New England Sports Network

(NESN), joined the NHL Network as a host of its signature show: NHL On the

Fly. She also will co-host the network’s coverage at major NHL events.

Jeremy Roenick, who played 18 seasons in the NHL and was inducted into the

U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, has created the World According to JR blog

for NHL.com, lending his outspoken and candid voice to what is happening

around the League.

• Melrose, Tappen and Roenick join returning contributor Kevin Weekes, the

former NHL goaltender and current NHL On the Fly analyst, who is now featured

four days a week on NHL.com with video and written entries with his Weekes on

the Web column.

Corporate Partners Continue to Align with the NHL

In the past two months, four significant strategic corporate partnerships either were

renewed or added to the NHL family:

• Discover renewed a multi-year sponsorship agreement as an Official Partner of

the NHL® in the U.S. As part of this agreement, Discover secured the title

sponsorship of the inaugural NHL on NBC broadcast on Thanksgiving Friday,

known as the 2011 Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown™. Discover also

participated in a co-branded float titled "Frozen Fall Fun" that made its debut in

this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, promoting the Thanksgiving

Friday game.

• Paramount Pictures entered into a strategic marketing partnership in support of

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL, the action-packed spy

adventure starring Tom Cruise. As part of this partnership, the NHL, along with

North American broadcast partners NBC, VERSUS, TSN, TSN2 and NHL

Network, are promoting the film across its platforms, integrating the teamwork

narrative central to the "Mission: Impossible" series into game broadcasts and

online features.

• Tim Hortons, one of North America’s largest quick-service restaurant chains,

became the title sponsor of this season’s NHL All-Star Game -- deepening the

company’s multi-year partnership as the Official Quick Service Coffee, Donut and

Breakfast Restaurant of the NHL in Canada.

• Visa renewed as a proud sponsor of the NHL and NHLPA in Canada for an

additional three years, continuing the designation of Visa as the Official Payment

Card of the NHLPA and NHL in Canada.

NHL Original Productions

The NHL announced the creation of NHL Original Productions, an initiative that joins

forces with renowned executive producer Ross Greenburg, through Ross Greenburg

Productions, to create original, long- and short-form hockey programming for the

League's media assets and NBC Sports beginning this season.

NHL Broadens International Broadcast Distribution

With more than 25 percent of its players hailing from outside of North America, the NHL

enjoys a significant demand from fans around the world. To serve these fans a number

of distribution agreements were reached this season with international broadcasters

throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Most notable was the landmark

distribution partnership between the NHL and MTG to provide live coverage of all 1,230

regular-season games and every Stanley Cup® Playoffs game throughout the Nordic

region, including Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway. For a complete listing of

international broadcast partners, click here.

NHL Launches Websites in Seven Different Languages

As part of a larger, cross-media strategy to better activate International fans of the NHL,

the League has created the most relevant, country-specific NHL media experience for

the Web by introducing NHL websites in Czech, Finnish, German, Russian, Slovak and

Swedish at the start 2011-12 season. The League also launched an official website

published in French (LNH.com) to serve the NHL’s passionate Francophone fanbase as

a complement to the English-language NHL.com.

These innovations reflect the fact that more than 20 percent of the overall digital

audience for NHL hockey comes from countries outside of North America, with six

nations – Czech Republic, Germany, Finland, Slovakia, Sweden and Russia –

representing 50 percent of the International digital audience. Each of these six countries

experienced double- or triple-digit year-over-year growth for video starts on NHL.com

last year, demonstrating the opportunity for native-language NHL Web sites.

What They’re Saying About the NHL

• [The NHL is in] "an innovative new era" Sports Illustrated.com, 11/23/11

• "The National Hockey League has never been on stronger ice in the United

States." Variety , 10/7/11

• "For Marketers, Media, Fans, NHL Brand Is Hot On Ice." Big Lead Sports,

10/17/11

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