October 26 2016


Thought Leadership, Hockey, #FANS, Our Work

The world of sports and entertainment is full of potential and infinite possibilities. For fans, that’s what it’s all about and it’s why we always come back for more.

Understanding fan culture and behavior is a fundamental step in reaching your sponsorship objectives and target audience. Rest assured, we know fans. We’re fans ourselves – 800 around the globe – supported by our Passion Drivers® data and 30+ years of sponsorship consulting experience.

It’s no secret that NHL fans have the reputation of being some of the most passionate fans in sports, but we wanted to dive deeper and find out exactly who these individuals are. With help from CubeYou, NetBase and Passion Drivers®, Octagon’s global study of more than 125k fans that tells us why fans are fans, we explored hockey diehards in three key areas: In RealityIn Arena and Online.

In Reality

The NHL doesn’t boast the sheer volume of fans of other major leagues in the U.S., but its fans are very determined to catch their favorite teams in person.

Because the live experience is so unique, large percentages of U.S.-based NHL fans have entered promotions to better their chances of seeing games in person in the future. 32% entered a promotion or sweepstakes to win tickets to an NHL game, while 23% entered a promotion to win tickets to the Stanley Cup Finals. 

NHL fans believe that the sport is best enjoyed when you're close enough to smell the fresh sheet of ice, so providing fans with an opportunity to experience the fast-paced action up close is an excellent way to build brand affinity.  

In Arena

The leading Passion Drivers® factors are Team Devotion, based on obsession and loyalty, and All Consuming, based on the ability of the event to draw you in. 

Again, because the live in-arena game experience is something that NHL fans crave so much, 64% of fans have attended an NHL game in the past three years. To put that in perspective, only 43% of NFL fans, the most popular sport in the United States, have attended games in that same span.

According to our Passion Shift data, which explains how fans feed their passion for sport across digital, social media and mobile, a large percentage of fans are using mobile while at games.


So, while NHL fans want to watch games in person, they are still looking for ways to enhance their experience once they’re in the arena. This provides brands with an opportunity for smart on-site activations that create a lasting impression that fans will share and associate with your company. 


The third leading Passion Driver is Talk & Socializing, meaning that NHL fans enjoy being able to bond and deepen their connections with fellow fans over shared hockey affinity both in person and on social media. In the past 12 months, there have been more than 10 million original posts about the NHL.

Here’s a taste of what NHL fans are saying online: 

So what does this all mean?

We'll leave you with one last number - 39% of NHL fans are more likely to try a company’s product if they sponsor the sport, more than the MLB and NFL.

The opportunity is for NHL partners to tap into this fan passion by developing campaigns and experiences that will maximize their sponsorships and align with some of the most loyal and passionate fans in sports.