The NHL's Resurrection

How popularity for the NHL is on the rise.

Archive for April, 2008

EA Sports NHL 08

Posted by flyingdutchmen on April 28, 2008

Electronic Arts (EA) has been the leader in developing sports video games since 1993. They own popular game series such as NBA Live, FIFA, NHL, Madden NFL, and NASCAR. They established themselves as the most dominant sports game developer by focusing their games to portray reality as best as technology would allow. And unlike some other companies, they don’t have any special ties to a single platform, which means that EA can release their games for the best-selling active platform.

Being a sports fan, I’ve rented and played all of their sports games for PS3 and I have nothing but great reviews for each game. The life-like gameplay and graphics are amazing, which points to how remarkable it is that our technology has evolved so quickly and to perfection. It seems like just a while ago I was playing my Super Nintendo. If I were to clean the dust that has settled on that system and play NHL 95 I would be horrified because the graphics are ridiculously bad. I love the fact that I am witnessing such a rapid progression in technology.

Lets focus in on NHL 08 . The game was released on September 13, 2007 in North America and it won Gamespot’s “Best Sports Game of 2007” award.

  • Tagline: “No game is ever the same”
  • Covers: Eric Staal (Main), Henrik Zetterberg (Sweden), Teemu Selanne (Finland), Jaromir Jagr (Czech Republic), Mark Streit (Switzerland)
  • Released for: Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Windows

Game Features

  1. Skill Stick System:The Skill Stick gave you the power to deke the goalie in NHL 07. Now you can more easily control the puck and own the 1-on-1 matchup by dekeing opposing defenseman. You can use your stick to push the puck into space and walk around your defender. Once you’re all alone in front, improved stick handling and shooting accuracy will give you the toolset to embarass the goaltender.

  2. Improved AI: Dynamic AI adjusts to your every move both on offense and defense, challenging even the most skilled gamers. The intelligent CPU scouts your tendencies like a coach and makes the necessary adjustments to shut down your money plays, forcing you to adjust your style of play and try different strategies.
  3. Custom Plays: This feature allows you to act as a coach and create any play that you can imagine. You take your team into practice mode and work on creating a custom play. Then watch your team execute it in the game as you decide when to use it.
  4. Goalie Mode: Here you can control your goalie with a new 3rd person camera and make those crucial saves instead of relying on the CPU.
  5. Develop AHL Players:For the first time ever, the game features the 29 teams of the American Hockey League. Players are able to develop talent through the AHL and then call up their prospects to play ing the NHL.
  6. Authentic Presentation: From player likeness, to the signature jersey tucks and sock preferences, each player was developed with a lot of attention to detail to create a truly authentic on-ice experience. Additionally, as the NHL transitioned to the Rbk Edge jerseys, with new color patterns, striping and even new logos for some teams, for the 2007/08 NHL season, EA Sports was able to place all 30 teams new jerseys in the game before the start of the season.

CCM Skates

Rbk Edge Jerseys

All of this is great for the game, but I would like the NHL to advertise and take advantage of EA Sports’s established gamer-base. Currently, the game is made solely by EA and the league doesn’t have anything to do with it. But I feel like its a great opportunity to target avid hockey fans who cannot get enough of the NHL. When I play the game I cannot find anything that advertises tickets, the NHL’s website, or any of its online content for that matter. Both entities can mutually benefit from a partnership. The league can advertise the game on national TV and the game can market certain things about the league to a relevant target market. Working together would increase the profits and exposure of both the NHL and EA.

Ads can be placed in tons of places in the game. Right now, EA is advertising new Rbk Edge jerseys, sticks, and skates on the players in the game. But as the game is loading, ads for tickets, NHL.com, and clothing can be thrown in. Additionally, if you take a look at the boards of the rink, you notice the advertisements for Rbk, Upper Deck, and others:

This is a great spot for the NHL to place its website address or other online content and news sources. Another interesting place to include advertisement is when a gamer goes online. Here the NHL can advertise games and tickets, post news articles, links to its Youtube and Myspace sites, and have clips of recent games.

There is so much this game can do for the NHL to increase its fan base and popularity. Just think about it. If a gamer decided to rent NHL 08 and open up to the the world outside of shooter games, there is a chance that he may like hockey because of the game. Then maybe he will watch a game on TV and next thing you know, he is buying tickets for games and inviting friends to come along. There is so much potential here and I am very interested if the NHL will move its advertising efforts into the video game industry.

Hopefully they do!

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INTERESTING FACT:

EA Sports’s NHL Playoff Simulator has the San Jose Sharks defeating the Montreal Canadiens in this year’s Stanley Cup Final. (http://sports.espn.go.com/videogames/news/story?id=3044085)

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Posted in Video Games | 8 Comments »

The NHL on Facebook

Posted by flyingdutchmen on April 20, 2008

Today’s social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace are helping not only the NHL, but all sports leagues, keep and grow their fan base.  As is pretty well known by now, these sites are free to access and they allow users to join one or more networks to easily keep in contact with friends, notify others of things going on with themselves, and interact with other people. 

Watercooler Inc., a company who has developed all of Facebook’s entertainment and sports applications, has brought these sites to the next level.  The company works with leading entertainment and sports partners to bring their content and brands to the millions of users across leading social networks.  Concentrating on the sports aspect, Watercooler Inc. has developed team specific applications that allow fans to interact with fellow fans, share activities and photos, and build a connection with those who have similar interests.  On their profile, a user can choose to support his or her favorite teams from a number of major sports such as: NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, soccer, college football, college basketball, and others. 

This snapshot from Facebook is an example of the Los Angeles Kings Fans application that can be integrating into ones profile.  Each team in the league has their own application on Facebook and those that add this application have access to its many features:

* Quizzes – Challenge your friends to see who knows more about the Kings!

* Trivia Challenge – Show everyone who’s the biggest fan with the biggest Kings trivia game anywhere!

* Waves – Rally the faithful to stand up and support the Kings!

* Smack Talk – Taunt your friends on their Wall year round!

* Discussion – Before and after every game, talk about everything with other Kings fans!

* Who’s Going – See which friends are going to the next game!

* Photos – Add Kings photos to your profile page!

* Become a Kings ‘Legend’ –Recruit your friends and make Los Angeles #1!

These features are a great way to entertain fans and allow them to connect with others; however, the NHL has no control over the content of these applications.  Users just build onto the already established application by adding their favorite pictures of their team, joining in on chats, and becoming active in their team’s network.  And unfortunately, the NHL has not paid much attention to these social networking sites.  For example, the league has created a MySpace page, but it has not been updated since the end of the 2007 Playoffs (http://www.myspace.com/nhl).  These sites are a great opportunity that the league needs to take advantage of in order to increase its popularity and profits.

The reason why I believe that these sites are a great opportunity is because of their ability to advertise to a targeted audience.  If the NHL decided to partner with Watercooler Inc. and gained control over their online content on Facebook, they would be able to advertise tickets, products, events, and other things directly to their fan base.  And more specifically, each team would be able to advertise precisely to their particular fans, who will be the most interested in what they have to sell.  This form of advertising is known as the bullet method and is much less expensive then the buckshot approach which is when an advertiser shoots out ads all over the market in the hopes of grabbing anyone’s attention. 

Using social networking sites would nicely complement the NHL’s existing online achievements and open up new channels for the league to advertise through.  Most importantly is the fact that the current Facebook online community has over 69 million active users worldwide.  If the NHL taps into this network, there is no saying how much it can improve the league’s profits. 

Posted in Online Content | Leave a Comment »

StratTix: Making ticket sales proactive, rather than reactive

Posted by flyingdutchmen on April 14, 2008

Last season (2006-2007) the NHL adopted a ticket analysis tool called StratTix to help all 30 teams grow home game revenues and maximize ticket sales, while standardizing how they report their revenues to the league.  It became the second major sports league to integrate StratTix’s data analysis features, the other being the NBA.  After a year of use, the NHL has capitalized from the benefits that StratTix has provided by setting a league record for attendance throughout last season and it will help the league going forward.

There are two critical activities that professional sports franchises must do well for the team to be successful. First, they need to assemble and maintain winning teams in order to attract fans. Second, they need to maximize the revenue from their activities. Assembling a successful team together depends on signing the right players and making good trade decisions.  To maximize revenue, concentrating on ticket sales often returns immediate benefits.  The NHL is unique among the professional sports leagues because more than 60% of the its revenues comes directly from ticket sales, so improving this process has been a key issue. 

Most ticketing systems, however, are focused on simply fulfilling and tracking transactions, not maximizing revenue. As a result, a great deal of potential revenue to the teams is lost.  StratTix is the first tool that lets users quickly gather ticket information from a variety of sources to gain a real-time view of ticket inventories and trends prior to a game.  It takes data directly from the ticketing system of a stadium or arena and produces a variety of visual and quantitative analyses. This allows sales teams to develop strategies on the fly to fill seats as they can quickly figure out which seats are available and initiate specific campaigns to sell them.  StratTix provides sports teams and entertainment venue managers a variety of strategic advantages, including:

1. the ability to see previously hidden patterns and trends within an event or stretch of events;

2. track the impact marketing campaigns such as advertising, promotions and direct mail have on sales; and, 

3. monitor price effects visually and quantitatively.

“Previously, real-time data collection was impossible,” said Lorraine Spadaro, vice president of technology and eBusiness for the Boston Bruins. “We’d get data from various ticket sources that sometimes was several days old. So we often had to make assumptions, which isn’t the best way to fill the arena. StratTix gives us in-depth mouse click analysis so we have the most current information for making crucial marketing decisions.” Consistently filling a venue to capacity is a challenge for many organizations.  However, StratTix takes the guesswork out of the process. The sales staff no longer has wait for the box office or ticketing systems to produce “up-to-date” ticket information. Instead, they can use StratTix to collect the data in real time and automatically see what seats are still unfilled. That real-time access lets them make smarter decisions about how to fill unsold seats.  The NHL will greatly benefit going forward because StratTix will help teams grow their capacity for home games with better ticket sales.

Posted in Tickets | 1 Comment »