The NHL, just like other professional sports, has different sources of income. Their major income comes from TV broadcasting and ticket sales. Other revenue can also come from sponsorships and partners.
How much revenue does the NHL get? The hockey league gets around $5 billion from revenue annually. This money goes halfway to both sides; 50% to the players and the other half to the owners.
Today, we will discuss how much revenue the NHL generates and the different sources they get it from.
NHL Revenue In The Last Five Years
Since the 2016/17 season, the NHL has averaged over $4 billion in revenue. Here is the breakdown of their income over this period;
Read Also: What is the average salary of the NHL?
Where does the NHL get its money from?
The National Hockey League can generate revenue from a variety of sources. The primary sources for the NHL include ticket sales, sponsorship, brand licensing, broadcast rights, and merchandise.
These four areas are responsible for the majority of the league’s income, but there are other sources of revenue as well.
The NHL also earns money from game marketing revenue, which includes in-game advertising during broadcasts, arena signage and promotions like 50/50 raffles; luxury suite revenue; preseason games played at international locations; hockey-related products like video games and trading cards; and other methods including player appearances at corporate events or charity functions, as well as summer camps and clinics.
Once these various streams of income are collected, they are shared amongst each team in a variety of ways:
- Ticket sales: After operating costs are taken out, ticket sales revenues are distributed evenly between all 31 teams regardless of individual team performance.
- Sponsorship: Each team has its advertising inventory to sell (such as digital boards or television timeouts). Once those have been sold off by the individual clubs (i.e., not through the league), any remaining sponsorship inventory is pooled together to be sold again by the NHL itself, with all proceeds being divided evenly between each team.
So, let’s talk about all these income sources extensively;
1. Ticket revenue
The NHL’s main source of revenue comes from ticket sales, just like any other league or sports organization. If you’ve ever been to a hockey game, you know that people can get pretty fired up about it. The regular season is 82 games long, and the average attendance is about 17,000. We’re sure you’re wondering: “How much does a ticket cost?”
Let’s do some math! (Don’t worry, it’s easy.) The average ticket price for an NHL game during the 2016-2017 season was $79 per person (and it rose in 2017-2018). So if the average attendance is 17,000 people per game, the revenue from each game would look something like this: 79 x 17000 = 1.3 million dollars!
Okay—but what if you don’t want to sit next to all those fans? There are better seats available at a slightly higher price. Say I wanted to pay $500, and sit next to the ice where all the action happens: 500 x 17000 = 8.5 million dollars! That’s more than double what they made with general admission tickets!
2. National broadcast rights
The NHL’s new 10-year deal with NBCUniversal is worth $2 billion, representing more than 50% of the league’s revenue. NBCSN and NBC broadcast NHL games, with the former serving as the exclusive cable home for the league.
As part of this deal, NBC broadcasts Wednesday and Sunday night games during the regular season, plus playoff games and The Stanley Cup Finals.
NBCSN also broadcasts Monday through Friday nights (excluding Wednesday), emphasizing teams in or near major media markets such as Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Jose, and Detroit.
Still, it also covers other relevant teams to fans across America like Nashville and St. Louis due to their Stanley Cup final appearances in recent seasons (2017 & 2019, respectively).
3. Local broadcast rights
This is the portion of broadcast rights sold to local broadcasters. The NHL sells these rights to local broadcasters, showing games in their respective home market.
For example, the Madison Square Garden Company owns the Rangers and broadcasts all of the team’s games on MSG Network.
This is where the home market comes to play. What’s a home market? – Each team has a “home market,” which is defined as an area where the team has the most fans.
The NHL uses Nielsen Media Research data to define each team’s home market by creating designated market areas (DMAs).
These areas are made up of television markets that share common characteristics such as political boundaries or media markets that have similar viewership patterns.
4. Merchandise sales
A significant amount of money comes from the sales of T-shirts, jerseys, and popcorn. It also involves the $10 beer sold.
5. Sponsorship and advertising
Sponsorship and advertising revenue include the money paid by sponsors (such as Bridgestone Tires, Coca-Cola, Geico Insurance, Honda Motor Company, etc.) for in-arena signage and other promotional events. Advertising revenue is shared equally among all NHL teams.
This aspect also involves the sale of media rights to broadcast games on television and radio. The league negotiates these deals in bulk with national networks such as NBC Sports Network and regional sports networks like NESN.
Teams can then negotiate contracts with local broadcasters to show their games in addition to broadcasts on the national scale.
6. Luxury suites (also called club seats)
We’ve talked about the revenue brought in by ticket sales, but we haven’t discussed another way that NHL teams make money from the games themselves: luxury suites.
Also called club seats or skyboxes, special seating areas are located within a given stadium. Depending on the venue, they may be positioned along the side of the rink or above it at an elevated height.
They are often accompanied by lounge seating and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), with food options available to order.
Costs vary based on location—some stadiums have more suites than others—but they’re usually quite pricey, ranging from $3,000 to $42,000 per season depending on location and amenities included in your package.
In addition to being close enough to see every blade of grass on the ice, these seats come with private restrooms and a parking pass for each seat purchased.
Some stadiums also include a dedicated concierge service for suite holders who can help you plan out your experience before you arrive at the game.
These premium tickets are not just for individuals either; luxury suites are often rented out by companies to host networking events or take clients to games for entertainment purposes.
The high-end amenities make them a draw for corporate groups hoping to impress their guests with exclusive lounges and top-of-the-line catering services during games rather than having all attendees sit together in regular seating areas.
7. Revenue from Proprietary Events & Venue Related Activities
The NHL also earns revenue from proprietary events and venue-related activities.
This includes revenue from special events like the NHL All-Star Game, Winter Classic, Stadium Series, and Draft; non-hockey events at venues like concerts and conventions; parking, concessions, and suite rentals. This amount was $150 million in 2017.
The NHL makes more than $4 billion in revenue per year, according to the organization’s annual reports.
The NHL gets a lot of money from different sources, and we have discussed them in this article.
However, the revenue goes 50/50 between the players and owners. But it is important to note that the significant revenue of most sports comes from ticket sales, advertisements, and broadcast rights.
So, if you were wondering, how much does the NHL get? Or where their revenue comes from, I believe you know now.
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