Citing the current NHL Lockout as an "unusual situation", the league's online merchandise store, Shop.NHL.com, has shut down its affiliate marketing program effective immediately.
Is this a sign that the league doesn't expect a quick resolution to the current standoff with the NHLPA?
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate Marketing is a business model by which various entities (websites, email newsletters, social media accounts, whatever) drive shoppers to online vendors, and receive a fee based on sales generated. Consider it an online version of a referral business.
For example, that's what I do over at my side-project, Hockey Gear HQ. I review hockey products and point people to online sales and coupon codes, helping them find the equipment they need at a good price. In return, when readers click through those links and make purchases at those sites, I get a small commission from the sale.
With Shop.NHL.com, for example, a team-specific blog might have banner adds pointing to Shop.NHL.com's section for their team's apparel. Now that this affiliate channel is being shut down, however, I'd expect that you'll see many sites swapping out those ads for something else entirely.
An excerpt from Shop.NHL.com's email message follows:
Due to the current NHL Lockout, the Shop.NHL.com Affiliate Program is suspending operations effective immediately.
Please remove all ads including text links, banners, data feed links and coupon listings immediately.
PLEASE NOTE - although linking will be shut down tonight at 5:00 PM ET, and images associated with the program will disappear, we'll continue to honor tracking cookies set before the end of today.
We apologize for this unusual situation and look forward to working with you when the lockout is resolved and we receive clearance from the NHL legal team to resume operations.