March 18, 2021

Rodrigo Pons

Analyzing Disney’s new media rights deal with the National Hockey League

Using the SponsorPulse platform, we take a consumer-data approach to the new partnership between the NHL and Disney that will begin in the 2021-22 season.

Earlier this week, the National Hockey League (NHL) and Disney signed a ground-breaking media rights deal that will span seven years starting from the 2021-22 season. Using the SponsorPulse platform, we can illustrate how the partnership will be beneficial to Disney’s more recent strategy of having direct-to-consumer streaming as the “primary focus” of its media distribution.

With a SponsorPulse Opportunity Score (a universal, insight-driven currency that instantly measures and compares sponsorship opportunities based on behaviour, emotion, and consumer impact metrics) of 23, the NHL is the 9th ranked property overall in the USA.

Analyzing people engaged with the NHL in the past year and their digital usage behaviours, the NHL Centre Ice (the NHL’s OTT service that broadcasts out-of-market hockey games) is unsurprisingly the leading video app with a SponsorPulse Opportunity Score of 83 in the USA. For reference, DAZN and NBC Sports rank 2nd and 3rd with Opportunity Scores of 68 (likely because they currently broadcast some NHL games) and Disney’s ESPN+ and Hulu come in 9th and 15th with Opportunity Scores of 56 and 28 respectively.

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Analyzing Disney’s new media rights deal with the National Hockey League

With this new deal, the NHL's out-of-market streaming package will only be available on the ESPN+ OTT service, which is also provided through Hulu. With NBC losing its status as the league’s primary media rights partner in the USA, Disney’s ESPN+ and Hulu should see their Opportunity Scores increase across the nation as the out-of-market broadcasting baton gets passed over at the beginning of the new season. On the property's side of things, the NHL will benefit from the content creation expertise of ESPN and also receive exposure to a wider marketable audience within Disney’s portfolio to help grow the game among younger generations.

SponsorPulse provides consumer data across various digital usage and category purchasing behaviours such as alcoholic beverage consumption, gambling and lottery participation, social media & video app usage, and others to help sponsorship professionals identify the most optimal areas for strategic partnerships.

Click here for a free report for the National Hockey League, or for more sponsorship insights on other sports properties, visit

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