By the Staff of NYSportsJournalism.com
January 12, 2016: The NHL had plenty of reasons to celebrate in 2015 — spanning the second half of the 2014-15 and the first part of the 2015-16 campaigns — including new deals with adidas and Major League Baseball Advanced Media, unveiling details for the 2016 World Cup, strong numbers among viewers both on TV and online and a record spend by the league's marketing partners.
Sponsorship spending on the NHL and the league’s 30 clubs topped $447 million, up $60 million (9.2%) from the previous year and nearly $100 million more than the $356 million total in 2011, according to marketing, research and consulting firm IEG, Chicago.
“Without a doubt, the 2014-2015 season represents a banner year for the NHL in terms of sponsorship revenue,” William Chipps, senior editor for the NHL IEG Sponsorship Report, said in a statement.
In 2015, the NHL signed a seven-year alliance making adidas the exclusive outfitter of on-ice uniforms and official supplier of licensed apparel and headwear for the league starting with the 2017-18 season. Adidas will replace one of its own divisions, Reebok, which has held the rights since 2005, a year before it was acquired by adidas Group.
Adidas also becomes the exclusive outfitter of both authentic and replica jerseys for the eight-team World Cup of Hockey this September.
"This partnership with the NHL is evidence of our comprehensive commitment to the athlete," said Mark King, president for adidas Group North America. "Adding the league to our growing icon portfolio — which includes premier athletes and U.S. league partnerships across football, basketball and baseball — is just the start for us."
In February, the league signed a multi-year North American partnership with enterprise application software and database firm SAP SE. As the official cloud software provider of the NHL, SAP is collaborating with the league on a multi-season the transformation of the NHL's statistics platform on NHL.com and the introduction of new and enhanced statistics that would "establish NHL.com/Stats as the definitive destination for hockey analytics."
In August, the NHL signed a six-year $1.2 billion digital media rights deal with MLBAM, the interactive media and Internet company of MLB, which gives MLBAM exclusive rights to distribute live out-of-market games; exclusive rights to operate NHL Network as an agent for the NHL; and will see MLBAM operate NHL.com, club Web sites and NHL apps.
Under terms of the arrangement, the NHL gets a stake in MLBAM of between 7%-10%.
"As the market leader, MLBAM is uniquely qualified to assist us in giving hockey fans a richer, more immersive experience with the game," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "MLBAM is also the right partner because they have the expertise to help us deliver new and exciting products to our fans, who crave compelling digital content."
Discover, a league partner since 2010, recently extended its official alliance with the NHL through 2019.
In July, the NHL inked a deal that extends Bridgestone's role as official tire of the NHL and the NHL Players' Assn. and title sponsor for the Winter Classic and the brand's involvement in other league activations for five seasons. The 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic was Bridgestone's seventh consecutive year as title sponsor of the event.
New league sponsors this past season also included Constellation, DraftKings, GoPro, Kellogg’s, Samsung, and Procter & Gamble (in Canada, for brands including Crest and Oral-B).
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