Data & Tech

NHL glides to team sponsorship revenue growth: report

The league is looking at more than $1.4 billion in team sponsorship revenue, close to what the NBA sees, according to SponsorUnited.
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Andy Devlin/Getty Images

3 min read

It’s Stanley Cup szn. (And no, we’re not talking about the tumblers that caused retail chaos in the winter.) The NHL’s Stanley Cup Final is underway, with the Florida Panthers leading the Edmonton Oilers three games to one.

When it comes to sponsorships, though, the whole league seems to be winning. NHL team sponsorship revenue is up 10% this season compared to last, according to SponsorUnited’s NHL Marketing Partnerships report. The increase pushes the league’s total revenue from team sponsorships past $1.4 billion, about on par with the NBA.

The growth is in part due to a boost in hockey interest among Americans, and in part because of the league’s “strategic expansion in digital signage and exposure assets,” the report found.

Chip on your shoulder: Increasing diversification of the brand categories involved with NHL teams likely hasn’t hurt revenue growth, either. Last year, the top five categories investing in NHL team sponsorships accounted for 60% of revenue growth, per the report. This year, that share is down to 45%.

  • Finance brands account for the largest portion of team sponsorship revenue at about $240 million, followed by alcoholic beverages, auto, business services, and healthcare.
  • Alcoholic beverages lead when it comes to number of deals, followed by construction and industrial; auto; hotels, restaurants, and leisure; and finance.

But the brand with the most new deals in the league, Tostitos, doesn’t fall into any of those categories. It added six NHL deals in the past year. The NHL now has more than 3,400 brand sponsorships, up 5% year over year, according to the report.

Knighted: The Vegas Golden Knights, who won the Stanley Cup last year but failed to make it to the Western Conference finals this season, have 177 sponsorship deals, the highest number in the NHL. The Oilers, who are still in the running for this year’s trophy, came in at No. 5, with 132 deals, according to SponsorUnited.

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Both were also among the teams with the most added sponsorships this season compared to last, or between 20 and 30 deals, per the report. The Dallas Stars, who fell to the Oilers in the Western Conference finals, also added about that many sponsorships.

“This growth has helped to offset losses from other teams, enhancing the overall sponsorship landscape of the NHL,” SponsorUnited wrote. “These teams represent a substantial portion of the league’s total sponsorship growth.”

Patchy: Last season was the first during which the NHL allowed jersey-patch sponsorships, and 71 different brands are taking advantage of primary jersey and helmet sponsorships across the league, including 26 who started this season. There are only 10 teams in the league that still have primary jersey-patch availability, which is indicative of “a likely sellout for the 2024-25 season,” according to SponsorUnited.

  • On average, jersey-patch sponsorships in the NHL cost $3.87 million, per the report.
  • Helmet sponsorship deals, meanwhile, cost an average of $2.1 million.

Sign me up: The NHL represents 85% of all virtual signage purchased across the five major pro leagues in the US, according to the report. Over 1,000 brands working with the NHL or individual teams use virtual assets, with digitally enhanced dasherboards (DEDs) the most popular.

  • There was an 11% increase in the number of brands using DEDs this year since they were introduced last year.
  • Half of the brands leveraging virtual assets in the NHL are exclusively buying DEDs.
  • Betting and fantasy, banking, soft drink, telecom, and grocery brands utilized these assets the most.
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