Helmet and patch sponsorship deals revitalize NHL revenue post COVID-19, reveals GlobalData

The National Hockey League (NHL) has successfully navigated financial challenges post COVID-19 by embracing innovative solutions. The introduction of helmet and patch sponsorships emerged as pivotal revenue streams, with helmet deals estimated at $91.22 million annually, surpassing patch deals at $32.2 million. The growing popularity of these partnerships, evident in increased team participation, reflects a strategic shift in sports finance, offering teams opportunities to augment income and elevate brand visibility, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Jake Kemp, Sport Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “NHL like most sports leagues in the immediate aftermath of the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was badly affected, seemingly haemorrhaging money following the sudden halt in live sport.

“Since then, the leagues response has been to find new solutions to enhance new incomes sources at all levels of the sport and two of its identified solutions has been the admittance of teams to sign helmet and shirt (patch) partners. Helmet sponsors first came into effect for the 2020-21 season, with patch partnerships allowed from the 2022-23 season.”

GlobalData’s latest report, “The Business of the National Hockey League 2023-24,” highlights all the key deals across the league for the current season and identifies key trends in market.

Kemp adds: “Sponsorship is a key source of income for any sports league around the world, with million dollar deals on the line for many of the leading global leagues and the NHL is no different. The allowance of these types of new major deals, follows the trend which was already happening in global sports any way. Allowing these deals has certainly helped ease the instant money issues which were being faced by teams in the NHL.”

Investment in both helmet and patch sponsorships has seen a notable increase this season and is anticipated to maintain this upward trend in the coming years. The current season boasts 45 helmet partnerships, marking a rise of 10 deals, while the number of patch agreements has increased by nine.

Kemp continues: “The popularity of these extra deals for teams is well evidenced by the fact that every team, bar the Philadelphia Flyers, boasts a helmet deal. Furthermore, there are more teams with at least one patch partner than those without such a deal.”

These deals are also not just necessarily linked to a team’s ability to sign new partners, many have looked to use them as a chance to enhance the income and offering of already signed deals. Teams like the Montreal Canadiens and Seattle Kraken each adorn the logo’s of its biggest partner, which is also linked to the team via its home venue naming rights.

Kemp concludes: “GlobalData expects the market for helmet and patch deals to continue to rise in the coming seasons, as more teams understand their value. This is especially true for the patch partners, where there are still plenty of teams without such a deal at present.”

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