One great marketing tool that the NHL has is the NHL video game series produced by EA sports. The popular game series can be a gold mine for new fans, or a means of enhancing current fans’ relationships and experiences with the NHL. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), 155 million Americans play video games, 4 out of 5 U.S. households own a device to play video games, and 42% of Americans play video games regularly. That is a pretty large market of video game users that the EA NHL series has a chance to reach. People may buy/play the NHL video game, for the sole reason that they like to play video games. This allows the NHL to partner with EA sports to use the game as marketing tool to reach new audiences and gain new fans. Someone who just plays the game because they like they game will at least gain exposure to the sport and the league, and has the potential to become a new fan of the NHL. This is extremely beneficial for the NHL. In regards to current fans, they can feel a stronger connection to the league and their favorite teams, by actually getting to use their favorite teams and players in the game. A lot of research has been done on relationships to video games are, and many findings show that video game players can feel a bond to the avatars they are using in the game. Overall, EA sports NHL video game series is a great marketing tool for the NHL.
Staying on the topic of partnerships, the NHL introduced a new partnership this season (2015-16) with Major League Baseball Advanced Media. While NHL GameCenter Live was once an entity solely of the National Hockey League, it has now handed over its online streaming to MLBAM. Much like the partnership with Adidas, this is a huge victory for the NHL. Major League Baseball is perhaps the most popular sports league in America, and its online streaming, MLB.TV, is a huge success. The NHL turned over its digital marketing, including the website development, to the MLBAM. In doing so, the NHL has gained digital media from a well-established sports marketing institution, meaning that the content and design is well-suited for the target audiences. In terms of revenue, the NHL has tapped in to new markets with this partnership. There was a deal for fans to purchase MLB.TV and NHL GameCenter Live as a package available to U.S. residents for a one-time fee of $139.95. This package gives fans full access to streaming any NHL or MLB game. This is especially useful for fans wanting to watch out-of-market broadcasts. Since the MLB has a much larger fan base than the NHL, this package deal allowed the NHL to reach new audiences by allowing the tandem purchase of MLB.TV and NHL GameCenter Live. Fans of the MLB who regularly purchase an MLB.TV subscription, could also gain access to NHL games, perhaps exposing them to a league they did not necessarily follow as heavily. This opportunity allowed the NHL to gain new fans, or at least entice a larger amount of people to purchase an NHL GameCenter Live subscription. It seems that the NHL is making great strides in partnerships that benefit the league’s marketing efforts.