With a full regular season of hockey featuring digitally enhanced dasherboards under its belt, the NHL appears to be literally changing the game for the league’s partners and the league itself.
As Sports Business Journal reported this week, the Stanley Cup playoffs are the latest sign that the league’s commitment to the new augmented reality tech—which allows viewers outside the arena and in different markets to see virtual signage targeted specifically for them—was a decidedly shrewd business move.
Consider the following takeaways:
1. The NHL’s considerable investment seems on the verge of paying off. Commissioner Gary Bettman has said the development costs to be the first rights holder to deploy virtual replacement technology for all of its games were in the tens of millions of dollars.
According to SBJ, just the ability to provide Canadian companies with first-time televised playoff exposure will reap a “multimillion-dollar windfall for the league this season and tens of millions in long-term partnerships.” That would be in addition to regular-season revenue already secured.
2. As the figures above attest, DEDs ultimate value driver for the NHL appears to be the playoffs, thanks to the league’s bifurcation of U.S. and Canadian partner benefits.
Until now, the “NHL has been unable to offer its Canadian sponsors in-game broadcast exposure to fans in their home country during the postseason…all inventory controlled by the league was reserved for global, North American and U.S.-only sponsors.”
While the impact would be muted for other leagues that don’t have separate country-specific benefits packages, the additional viewership for playoff games would still mean that VRT would deliver significant value during the post-season for any rightsholder.
3. Dynamic content could create true competition for jersey and helmet patches. Based on stats shared by the NHL, it’s plausible that DEDs will be more highly sought after by brands than patch and other static inventory available.
Research conducted by YouGov found that “one minute per period of DED exposure delivers a 56% lift in unaided brand recall relative to placement on the old fixed dasherboards, which were present for the entire game, as well as a 24% lift in category-aided recall and a 31% lift in prompted brand recognition.
It’s reasonable to expect that results would be similar, or even more favorable, in the comparison of DEDs to patches, at least as far as televised game action is concerned.
Regardless, it seems that six months into the NHL’s DED experience, there is no evidence to suggest that VRT is not still the future of sports venue signage.
For our original blog on the NHL’s DEDs, click here.