The Vancouver Canucks are spiraling out of control, plummeting through the NHL's standings. But online, they may be the hottest team in the league.
As Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has told anybody and everybody for the last few years, sports teams have to act like their own media company these days, and in that regard, the team website (teamname.NHL.com) is the digital arena in which each franchise competes for attention online.
While market size and on-ice fortunes will certainly play a role in the size and appetite for each team's offerings, the impact of individual team content strategy has just as large an impact.
One League, 30 Team Websites
The playing field was leveled somewhat back in 2007, when the NHL consolidated all of the various team websites underneath NHL.com with a uniform design and underlying technology (despite furious opposition and a failed lawsuit by the New York Rangers). While each of the team sites builds on a common platform, however, content creation is mostly up to the teams themselves - each has flexibility to do more or less in different areas.
In Boston they have the Bruins Den, which features a mix of video content and social networking, while a team like the Florida Panthers has more of the bare-bones "News-Stats-Schedule" look to its website. The Canucks have a lively message board system running, while the Nashville Predators shut theirs down recently.
The L.A. Kings went the furthest in the "be your own media company" direction by hiring their own reporter (Rich Hammond in 2009, now Jon Rosen) to cover the team and provide content at LAKingsInsider.com (that site's usage is not included in the table below). While there can be concern about the ability of team employees to provide candid assessments and analysis when things aren't going well, overall the LA Kings Insider venture appears to be a hit with fans.
So where do the various NHL teams rank in terms of their web traffic over the last month? Let's get right to the good stuff, and feel free to click on the column headings to re-sort the data by that column:
|Toronto Maple Leafs||401,270||902,766||1,768,253||1.96||4.41|
|St. Louis Blues||399,354||720,373||1,347,602||1.87||3.37|
|Detroit Red Wings||287,067||552,693||1,172,354||2.12||4.08|
|Los Angeles Kings||281,487||584,382||1,010,404||1.73||3.59|
|San Jose Sharks||186,399||395,294||770,365||1.95||4.13|
|New York Rangers||227,342||515,746||762,210||1.48||3.35|
|New Jersey Devils||147,601||297,116||593,551||2.00||4.02|
|New York Islanders||145,364||291,328||568,074||1.95||3.91|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||130,223||232,568||458,830||1.97||3.52|
Data sourced from Quantcast.com covering Feb 11 - Mar 12 2014, showing desktop & mobile web browsing combined, but excluding mobile app usage (which is not made public). Tampa Bay Lightning data unavailable. Team links refer to team-specific pages at HockeyGearHQ.com, where I hope you'll buy yourself a new NHL jersey (and save money while doing so).
Of course, there are a few notes to consider here - numbers around the league were likely down over the last month, due to the Winter Olympics break which covered about half this time period. I would be very surprised, however, if that effect impacted the overall rankings here significantly.
So what surprises you about this table? The fact that the Vancouver Canucks, who are watching their season go down the drain, lead the pack by a healthy margin? What about the middling numbers for the New York Rangers, despite having a likely playoff team in the league's biggest media market?
Sound off in the comments below!
People - unique visitors identified by Quantcast visiting the site during that time period.
Visits - If you view a website, then let a significant amount of time (typically 30 minutes) pass between the next time you pull up a page on that site, it counts as a new visit.
Page Views - Total number of times any page was viewed on a website, including someone reloading the same page (if you refresh this page, it counts as another page view).
PV/Visit: Page Views per Visit, a measure of how deeply visitors travel around within a site once landing there.
PV/Person: Page Views per Person, a measure which also brings into account how often people return to your site and engage with it.