Puck

The NHL’s pricey new puck drops in Seattle as it takes a page out of other leagues' playbooks

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures

Sounds like a lake monster… the Seattle Kraken. The NHL’s newest hockey team hit the ice last night. This season, the NHL signed a $635M/year broadcast deal with ESPN and Turner — nearly twice the size of last year’s deal with Disney and NBC, but far from the NFL’s recent $10B/year deal. The NHL has high hopes for Seattle’s first team in 97 years. Here’s why:

  • No expense spared: The Kraken raised $2B from billionaires like Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, who along with his ownership group paid $650M — more than 20 of 31 teams are valued — to join the NHL.
  • The Climate Pledge Arena, sponsored by Amazon, cost $1B+ to upgrade and is 100% renewable-energy-powered. Think: more LED video screens than any other arena.
  • Digital approach: The Kraken built a mobile app that gives fans personalized experiences, like finding their favorite wines waiting at their seats.
  • Monster demand: An average Kraken ticket sells for $188 on SeatGeek, double the NHL average.

Streamable hat trick... The Kraken’s debut is part of a bigger e-vamp for the NHL, whose ratings hit a 10-year low last season. The NHL-ESPN partnership is the first major US sports broadcasting deal that’s streaming-focused: It gives the NHL access to 15M ESPN+ subscribers and 43M Hulu subscribers — and an opportunity to boost its fan base.

THE TAKEAWAY

The future of pro sports is omnichannel… and the NHL doesn’t want to miss out. The NBA and NFL have built ways for fans to consume live sports across multiple platforms. The NBA teamed up with Microsoft to provide AI-customized content across streaming and social platforms, and the NFL partnered with Verizon to deliver 5G-powered stats in the stadium. The Kraken could spearhead the NHL’s plans to engage viewers in stadiums and on streamers.