Report: Ads on helmet to be approved for 2020-2021 NHL season

And the slippery slope begins in the NHL.

A report in Sports Business Daily notes that the league is set to approve placing ads on helmets for next season.

NHL to place ads on helmets

In an effort to recover as much revenue as possible, and by request of the players, ads will be allowed on helmets. At this point, it is believed to be only for this season, but once you open Pandora’s Box it will be hard to close.

From Mark J. Braun of Sports Business Daily:

Sources said that the helmet ads for the upcoming season are primarily designed as a make good for naming rights sponsors and founding-level type partners, subject to league approval. The sticker placement of sponsors would be located on both sides of a player’s helmet, sources said, and only one brand would be allowed at a time on the helmet.

Sources said that teams will likely have the option of selecting one brand for all home games and one brand for all away games, but they won’t be able to swap different sponsors throughout the season. It’s currently unclear what the exact size of the sponsor stickers will look like.

The report goes on to say these ads could generate almost $3 million in additional revenue per team. Talks are also ongoing for continuing the program beyond next season.

NHL ads on helmets
Ad on an AHL helmet (AHL)

This shouldn’t be a surprise

We first made a note about ads weeks ago. There was talk of it on a 31 Thoughts Podcast with Elliotte Friedman and a blurb in the Edmonton Journal.

There is some rumbling that the NHL may follow the lead of European leagues and start placing ads on sweaters. As a hockey purist, I absolutely detest the idea. But I didn’t like board advertising either and that ship has long since sailed. Besides, the league has little choice but to be less picky about where revenues come from.

Edmonton Journal

While placing ads on jerseys would be a difficult sell to some teams, growing more revenue by putting one on a helmet was apparently more palatable.

Across the league, there’s an understanding of the need for more creativity in revenue development. Ads on jerseys will come eventually, but there is a desire to be careful with it. The other reason the league may “test drive” with helmets is to get an idea of where the market stands during COVID. You don’t want to rush into a below-market deal.

Elliotte Friedman