The NHL is working every angle to make up lost revenue from 2020.
Announced Tuesday morning, the league has sold naming rights to its four place-holder divisions being used for the 2021 season. According to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, the sponsorship agreements — or better, opportunities — are only believed to be for one year.
This means that fans of teams in Canada’s North Division will be inundated by Scotia advertising this season, while the West Division is sponsored by Honda, the Central Division is owned by Discover, and the East Division belongs to MassMutual.
Remember there will be no cross-competition in the regular season between these divisions, so I suppose you can say there will be no inter-sponsor play.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 5, 2021
While certainly different and perhaps bothersome to some, the title sponsors for the divisions won’t be the most pervasive bit of new business for the NHL when considering the average fan’s appetite to be bombarded by advertising.
That’s because most, if not, all teams are working with sponsors to place advertising on their helmets — something that’s entirely unavoidable when consuming the product, unlike these easy-to-gloss-over division names.
Just look at the travesty from the Pittsburgh Penguins:
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 4, 2021
Big picture, though, the title sponsors should be considered nothing more than a minor inconvenience, because the NHL needs healing after a devastating season from a financial perspective. And yes, it’s hard to sympathize with the billionaire owners at the controls of this league, many of whom have shown a troubling lack of loyalty to their workforce through these hard times. I get it. But the unfortunate reality is that the health of the game — which includes the product and peoples’ ability to rely on it to make a living — is directly tied to the financial standing of the league, which is essentially the collective bottom lines of 31 ownership groups.
New money is required to offset the impacts of lost revenue. Without it, there will be no increases to the salary cap (bad for the game!) and there will be fewer and fewer jobs made available (bad for everyone else!).
The title sponsors, the helmets — it’s all positive stuff. Even when profits are filtered through the hands of ownership first.
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