How the NHL is successfully combating the shift in consumer expectations

As customer demands rise within the sporting industry, the NHL exceeds fan expectations.

Business Intelligence is changing the game – literally and figuratively. For sports fans, consumer expectations have jumped to a brand new level of expectation. How they personally view, interact, and experience sought after information from their favorite teams should now be fully customized to their preferences, consistently up to date and in real-time, and fully accessible around the clock (to name just a few of their anticipated demands).




In part of an Accenture Interactive Report, studies prove that customers are underwhelmed with their favorite brand experiences.
In part of an Accenture Interactive Report, studies prove that customers are underwhelmed with their favorite brand experiences.

Recent developments within the business landscape of the leading cable sports provider, ESPN, shed further light on these changing consumer dynamics. An increased number of sports fans are ‘cutting the cord,’ moving from what has historically been content dictated by executives and producers, which focused on feeding statistics, games and analysis predominantly from the most popular teams. This leading news of the day had traditionally generated the highest ratings and a booming revenue. But, this ‘static’ viewership and experience has eventually led to ESPN’s customer base shedding over 12M subscribers. Although their fee still tops most cable network providers, and the demand for content is as great as ever, their consumer experience has shifted from broadcast to online forcing the sports giant to shed talent to maintain their bottom line.

So, what does this instance mean in the greater scheme of business? Smart companies are using the proliferation of data and customer interaction to change the online experience in building engagement, and most importantly, recurrence and loyalty. Now, with their size and media partnerships, sports leagues are leveraging data with the passion of their fans (short for fanatics). According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the NHL is looking to capitalize on this changing dynamic in building online experiences targeting a younger fan, seeing long-term growth opportunity. In that same WSJ article, the NHL’s chief marketing officer states:

“Critical to that mission will be using data on fan behavior to forge a stronger connection with existing fans and attract new ones, as well as using technology to bring fresh perspectives to the game, like creating virtual-reality games for fans and tracking puck speeds as a starting point for social-media conversations.”

Fans have always been invested in their favorite leagues, teams and athletes, but they’re now able to combine that same passion with information and experience that is most relevant to them. The prior reliance on trying to catch highlights on scheduled shows or moving tickers on the bottom of the screen is simply no longer applicable.

One of the top leaders in sports employing these digitally transforming capabilities is the NHL. Determined to give its users a customized experience, the NHL and is turning occasional viewers into die-hard fans. Their understanding of the shifting landscape has provided new access to help them gain viewer attention and attempt to wrestle market share from other popular professional sports leagues. And, not only will renewed or reengaged interest drive their own popularity, but it will also generate an increase of site traffic and longer visit time per user.

In the video above, the NHL has partnered with SAP to become more agile in order to enhance their positive fan experiences. The hockey league specifically sought out SAP for help by “analyzing and presenting data stats to fans in an engaging way, seizing the opportunity to gain insight, and reaching out to their receptive audience with targeted messages.” After becoming the NHL’s official cloud service provider, the software has allowed for a more engaged fan base by efficiently providing a best-in-class product.

Yet, there is no resting on current or prior success as customer expectation is evolving as fast as technology. As referenced above, even the most innovative and dominant organizations are faced with this new media backdrop. Stay ahead of the competition and keep your teams educated by attending powerful seminars and learning opportunities such as the BI & Analytics Conference. As companies and organizations continually optimize and leverage business intelligence, the native motto of sports teams everywhere rings as true here as on the playing field – ‘survive and advance.’

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