The newest form of NHL arena signage is in place for this season. Digital advertisements are projected along the panels for fans watching game broadcasts.
Ads, which took seven years to develop, are the NHL’s latest revenue stream, joining jersey and helmet ads.
Fans watching games on TV or streaming were exposed to these digital ads during the first few nights of the 2022-23 season.
The @NHL replaces traditional signage on rink boards with virtual advertisements using digitally enhanced scoreboards.
— Sports Business Journal (@SBJ) October 3, 2022
But there are early glitches with the technology.
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Here’s what you need to know about the new NHL Digital Scoreboard ads.
When did the NHL put digital ads on billboards?
The 2022-23 NHL season is the first that digital ads will appear on game broadcasts. The ads took seven years to complete, and the development process cost the league tens of millions of dollars.
Billboard ads have been around since 1981. The Minnesota North Stars were the first team to do so.
How have digital ads performed?
There were a few early bumps in the road. During Wednesday’s Sportsnet broadcast of the Oilers-Canucks game, digital ads appeared to collapse, prompting many fans to share their frustrations online.
These New NHL Digital Ads Are Crazy pic.twitter.com/uN6InE68Zr
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) October 13, 2022
The league expected a few mistakes at the start of the season, with the idea that the fans would eventually adapt to the commercials.
“Like anything else, you’re going to have your people who don’t like it, who think it’s hard to watch,” said Keith Wachtel, NHL chief commercial officer and executive vice president of partnerships. global, said before the season. “But over time, like everything else, people will get used to it, and we’re not worried at all.”
How do digital ads work?
The The NHL has partnered with Supponor, a virtual advertising company, to develop an “artificial intelligence-based remote input technology to automatically program dashboards”. All dashboards are programmed through a central hub.
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reported on the league’s process for deciding which ads are shown and where they are placed:
There are five different “zones” sold to sponsors: behind the two nets and the three zones. Ads are sold as ads, with brands buying in 30-second increments, based on the game clock. Each game, teams have 120 increments to schedule. Each broadcaster and the NHL itself get 90 seconds of institutional time for their own ads. Sometimes the boards will resemble those traditionally seen in the arena. Other times, a single announcer will support panels for a particular area or even the entire rink.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said before the season that the league was working on how to maximize the amount of money it makes from ads.
“There is going to be an increase in revenue as clubs go and we will find the best way to activate it and monetize it.” Bettman said. “We’ve created a model that’s kind of a hybrid between league and clubs, between away and home teams. And we’re going to have to watch very closely how best to use it.
“It also gives us the ability to use our international feeds to create revenue opportunities, as it allows us to integrate their national advertising.”