The National Hockey League will use its digital TV assets to help build momentum with fans during the league’s lockout-shortened regular season, officials said.
Leading the fast break is the league’s “GameCenter Live” multi-platform live game package, which offers fans access to live telecasts during the truncated 48- game schedule, caused by a 119-day labor stoppage that ended earlier this month.
The $49.95 package (down from $80 last year) makes games accessible to fans via computer, smartphone or such gaming platforms as Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 — the league and Microsoft having struck a deal just two weeks ago. (The league has also slashed the price of its In Demand-distributed “NHL Center Ice” cable and satellite game package to $49.95.)
Coming off triple-digit percentage growth in 2012 compared to the previous year, NHL senior vice president of business development and strategic planning Stephen McArdle said the league hopes subscriptions to the package will keep rising despite the shortened season.
“We know our fans are purchasing the product in high numbers, but they’re using it frequently once they purchase it — our usage data shows that it’s a sticky product and they’re using it both when their favorite teams are playing as well as when they’re favorite team is not playing,” McArdle said. “It’s the ability for us to serve the fans by allowing them to take the product wherever they are and keep tabs on what’s going on around the league is the real driver of the product and what the fans are most excited about.”
GameCenter Live offers access to both the home and away telecasts for each game. Subscribers also can watch multiple games at the same time, and receive up-to-the-minute scores, player statistcs and schedules for up to five teams of their choosing.
The NHL hopes the reduced price and the package’s portability will create a strong price/value proposition that will translate to increased sales, league senior director of direct and digital marketing Nili Doft said.
Additionally, a chat section within the GameCenter package, along with Twitter-based capabilities to debut later in the season, will allow fans to and the league to talk up the league’s action to build momentum and awareness of the games.
“We believe that the fans see the value in that and it greatly increases the value proposition of the product,” Doft said. “For us, it helps drive our development of the product to know how and where our fans want to use it.”
Added McArdle: “For fans to really keep up with what’s going on around the league and keep track of all the games, given their critical importance in a shortened season, the GameCenter Live product will be able to do that.”
The NHL has slashed prices on its “Game Center Live” package to lure fans back to hockey post-lockout.