It was inevitable.
According to multiple reports, the NHL has approved all 32 teams to use space on their sweaters for ad space, starting in the 2022-23 season. Eben Novy-Williams and Scott Soshnick of Sportico had the first reports.
— Mario Tirabassi (@Mario_Tirabassi) August 17, 2021
The NHL introduced helmet ads for the first time this past season in an effort to curb the financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the 2019-20 and 2020-21 regular seasons and postseasons. According to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, the helmet ads generated more than $100M in revenue and look to remain in place moving forward.
According to the Sportico report, the sweater ads will have to fit into a rectangle of space, measuring 3-inches by 3.5-inches. That space is slightly bigger than the space taken up by jersey ads seen in the NBA, which was implanted in the 2017-18 season.
It’s safe to say the majority of hockey fans hate the idea of having ads on their beloved sweaters. But as we have seen in the past with the NBA, there is a way for the ads to be there but almost be unnoticeable. The fear that NHL fans have is that their favorite teams and players will become skating billboards, like in almost every European league. That will not be the case in the NHL, since most European leagues have to use those ads to survive and generate revenue, whereas major North American leagues have more lucrative broadcast deals and arena sponsorships.
For a league that is one of the least lucrative in terms of the major four Men’s North American leagues, the more money generated the better for the NHL. Also, for those worried about the look of the ad patches on the sweaters, it’s likely that you will be able to purchase your favorite teams sweater without the ad patch on it. Trust me, one month into the 2022-23 season, no one will care, just like with the helmet ads.
The Blackhawks have a helmet ad partnership with United Airlines, not surprising since they play in the United Center, but it will be interesting to see which company they part with for their new sweater ad space.