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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:10 pm
 


NHL has an emotional neutrality problem with hockey fans thanks to lockout

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Whenever a pundit wants to blame the fans for the NHL lockout, that belief is rooted in the idea that we'll always come back to the League no matter how many work stoppages we suffer through.

Darren Rovell of ESPN went as far as to write that "there will be virtually no consequences from losing a season"; a statement whose abject misunderstanding of hockey fans contradicts the author's standing as a sports marketing expert. A cancelled season would be devastating to the League's momentum in the U.S. and extraordinarily damaging to its standing with Canadian fans, perhaps irreparably so.

Will a Toronto Maple Leafs fan still be passionately engaged if, say, Roberto Luongo comes to town* and backstops the team into the conference semifinals? Of course; much like you might spend the night with an ex if you're ravenous enough.

Doesn't mean the engagement's back on.

The issue for the NHL as this juncture of the lockout isn't how angry the fans are, but how angry they're not.

Hockey is completely off the radar in the traditional sports media in the U.S.; we're talking a 'space probe flying past Pluto' distance from the rest of the ESPN-approved diet of sports talk. Fans that were engaged in the day-to-day of the lockout can no longer stomach it. If you thought apathy ruled the day before, you haven't seen the indifference dueling court filings can foster.

But let's assume the NHL isn't idiotic enough to cancel a second season in seven years and has a 2012- … OK, a 2013 campaign. The challenge isn't calming enraged fans; the challenge is convincing those who have lived their lives NHL free for months to make time and spend money on the League again.

The challenge may be more formidable for the NHL than previously imagined.

Roy MacGregor of the Globe & Mail had a piece on Tuesday that chronicled the work of Level5, a market research firm that tracks the emotions of different consumer bases. Their study covered 1,066 people; what did they find?

From a branding point of view, NHL hockey and its multiple corporate sponsors are facing a huge hurdle, Kincaid says. The passionate fans are angry, the neutral fans turned off and bored, the mostly non-fans — the people hockey needs to attract if it hopes to grow — disgusted.

"Think what this means to the sponsors of hockey," Kincaid says. "For almost one-third of Canadians, you are wasting your time on them. You've lost them. They are not going to become even 'neutral.'"

As for those who do care about the game and still feel cheated, Kincaid says anyone who believes all the NHL has to do is come back and all will go back to as it was should think again. "It's about damage control with these people," he says, "not about action on the ice."


Those "neutral fans" are the ones that we're most worried about. The 'take-it-or-leave-it' types that dip into hockey when there's something to watch — the Winter Classic, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, big rivalry games — but summarily ignore it otherwise.

Here's more evidence from a poll released on Tuesday:

Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians have no interest in the two sides reaching an agreement in the National Hockey League dispute, according to survey results out today. The telephone survey by NRG Research Group and Peak Communicators was completed between December 11th and 16th in six regions across Canada. It includes the responses of 801 individuals.

The survey results, which come out a week after the NHL announced the cancellation of games through to December 30th, also found that 25 per cent of Canadians don't believe the lockout will be resolved in time to salvage a season.

"Canadians are clearly becoming disillusioned with the dispute process," says Brian Owen, CEO and founder of NRG Research Group. "A large majority of us either don't care about a settlement or don't see an end in sight to the negotiations."


As André Richelieu, sports marketing professor at Université Laval, told Canadian Business last month:

It's marketing myopia to believe that because we have the best fans in the world, that they will come back to the NHL. There are other ways to watch hockey; there are other ways to entertain yourselves with sports or other artistic and cultural activities. And already, people are getting accustomed to spending their disposable income on other entertainment options. The biggest danger is that the NHL believes that everything starts and ends with the NHL. That's a recipe for disaster.

The biggest danger—and this would appear if the season is totally cancelled—is that [the fans'] frustration and anger is transformed into apathy or indifference.

That danger's been realized. Fans don't care.

They're deaf to the back-and-forth between the players and the owners, especially after both sides cried wolf during their last round of intense negotiations. The issues between the two sides have been nebulous in this round of talks — hockey-related revenue, contractual issues, escrow. Now that we've reached the legal wrangling portion of this pathetic standoff, even the most engaged fans are reacting with a yawn and a "wake me when it's over."

What if they're still asleep to the NHL after the lockout ends?


http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-pu ... nM-;_ylv=3


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:26 pm
 


If the NHL blows this season up, they're fucked.

They think they have issues with a few teams now, it'll be a much more serious problem if we lose another season.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:31 pm
 


NASCAR doesn't strike! Nor does the local short track.

Just go racing!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:32 pm
 


I tend to agree with that. As die hard a fan as I have been, I am losing the fatih very fast. I do not see a resolution to this in time to salvageeven half a season.

What pisses me off mor then anything I think is the fact that both sides knew this was coming and neither side tried to start bargining until a month or so before the season was supposed to start. Why weren't they trying to work this out from throught the spring and summer, thats what really pisses me off.

The author is right. I live in Chicago and barely here anything of the so called negotiations.

Any chance of expanding the US market is close to extinct me thinks.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:53 pm
 


canuckns canuckns:
I tend to agree with that. As die hard a fan as I have been, I am losing the fatih very fast. I do not see a resolution to this in time to salvageeven half a season.

What pisses me off mor then anything I think is the fact that both sides knew this was coming and neither side tried to start bargining until a month or so before the season was supposed to start. Why weren't they trying to work this out from throught the spring and summer, thats what really pisses me off.

The author is right. I live in Chicago and barely here anything of the so called negotiations.

Any chance of expanding the US market is close to extinct me thinks.


In Toronto, all the talk right now is about the Blue Jays.

The Leafs and all this BS aren't even in conversation....big hockey fans have given up and are pissed off.

I'm a huge hockey fan myself and spend 8-10 hours a week in a rink and I haven't heard a peep from anyone about the lockout. I have no intentions of getting any tickets or anything this season if they come back. They won't see any of my money for a long time.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:03 pm
 


Gunnair Gunnair:
NASCAR doesn't strike! Nor does the local short track.

Just go racing!


Damn straight. I've had more fun being part of racing than I ever had watching hockey. And it cost me very little. Last summer all that was between me and full speed Indy and NASCAR cars was a painted line on the pavement.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:08 pm
 


DrCaleb DrCaleb:
Gunnair Gunnair:
NASCAR doesn't strike! Nor does the local short track.

Just go racing!


Damn straight. I've had more fun being part of racing than I ever had watching hockey. And it cost me very little. Last summer all that was between me and full speed Indy and NASCAR cars was a painted line on the pavement.


The local short track has a ton of events, is family friendly, is in expensive, is chock full of hillbillies, and is just a hell of a lot if fun. NASCAR has its own issues without a doubt, but it is very receptive to its fan base (hence the new 2013 cars) as much as it is to its sponsors.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:34 pm
 


Gunnair Gunnair:
DrCaleb DrCaleb:
Gunnair Gunnair:
NASCAR doesn't strike! Nor does the local short track.

Just go racing!


Damn straight. I've had more fun being part of racing than I ever had watching hockey. And it cost me very little. Last summer all that was between me and full speed Indy and NASCAR cars was a painted line on the pavement.


The local short track has a ton of events, is family friendly, is in expensive, is chock full of hillbillies, and is just a hell of a lot if fun. NASCAR has its own issues without a doubt, but it is very receptive to its fan base (hence the new 2013 cars) as much as it is to its sponsors.


With the demise of the Calgary track, Castol raceway near the Edmonton airport has stepped up and spent several million in making what looks to be a decent road course. They already had a 1/4 and 1/8 mile dragstrip, and oval dirt track, but the road course will let the WCMA run a bunch of GT events that we only got to run at CFB Namao and the Edmonton Airport track. Alas, Blanchford field is now in the history books, as is the Edmonton Indy. :(

That was something that made Edmonton a world destination. I met people from all over the world, and they too didn't give a flying f- about hockey. They came for racing. Too bad the governments would't chip in the little bit of money to make it profitable, like the governments do with the Toronto Indy or Monreal F1 race.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:51 pm
 


Sports are more fun ot play than to watch. Though, admittedly, my soccer playing days are limited. I'm on borrowed time. I'd happily enage in Eurpean football, but the channel that has all the games costs like $20/month. Sorry, I'm not going to encourage that kind of behaviour.

So there's just a void where hockey used to be. I didn't replace it with any other sport. Even before the lockout, I was fed up with it--the media side of things in particular. They just got so absolutely batchit crazy in the papers here, and whatever team we were playing in the playoffs were suddenly worse than the Nazis.

I love watching the Sedins play. I don't, however, invest my self-worth into whether or not the Canucks win or lose.

Frankly, I think Vancouver could benefit from growing out of being a one-sport town.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:13 am
 


OnTheIce OnTheIce:
canuckns canuckns:
I tend to agree with that. As die hard a fan as I have been, I am losing the fatih very fast. I do not see a resolution to this in time to salvageeven half a season.

What pisses me off mor then anything I think is the fact that both sides knew this was coming and neither side tried to start bargining until a month or so before the season was supposed to start. Why weren't they trying to work this out from throught the spring and summer, thats what really pisses me off.

The author is right. I live in Chicago and barely here anything of the so called negotiations.

Any chance of expanding the US market is close to extinct me thinks.


In Toronto, all the talk right now is about the Blue Jays.

The Leafs and all this BS aren't even in conversation....big hockey fans have given up and are pissed off.

I'm a huge hockey fan myself and spend 8-10 hours a week in a rink and I haven't heard a peep from anyone about the lockout. I have no intentions of getting any tickets or anything this season if they come back. They won't see any of my money for a long time.


We spend a lot of time at the local rinks too. Some people are talking about it, but mostly how pissed they are at both sides over this bull. It will be a very long time before the NHL see any of my money either. I get my hockey fix with the local junior A and B team. Going to the Junior B's game tonight, the hell with the NHL


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:28 am
 


OnTheIce OnTheIce:
If the NHL blows this season up, they're fucked.

They think they have issues with a few teams now, it'll be a much more serious problem if we lose another season.

I agree.
My 3 inside sources said yesterday that it wasn't looking good and not much is going on. Aside from some small details, duration of the next CBA and length of player contracts seem to be the hold up.
My feeling is that both sides are holding hands at the cliff saying they'll jump but neither want to say they don't want to jump first.
From my perspective the lockout has been fantastic......especially this last month. :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:56 am
 


I stopped paying any attention to the dispute a month ago. I couldn't give a rats ass as to where they are at with their back and forth bs. For me it reached the point where all I hear is blah, blah, blah.

This season is toast and it's way too late now to even consider playing a half season, which IMO wouldn't count for shit anyway.

Funny how you get so used to there not being any NHL hockey that you really don't miss it much...


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:21 am
 


I've definitely given up on hockey.

Being a Leaf fan has been disillusioning enough.

These guys may be killing hockey in Canada. incredible.

I don't even think of it anymore. Hockey, the NHL, the Leafs, it's all so completely out of sight and out of mind that I would probably not hear about a pathetic "return" for a month or two.

Funny how something Canadians take so much pride in being stereotyped about has died out of conversation and interest completely.

I haven't had a conversation about the NHL in many many months.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:32 am
 


Since when do we expect any business to be anything but emotionally neutral with their clients? :?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:40 am
 


Public_Domain Public_Domain:
I've definitely given up on hockey.

Being a Leaf fan has been disillusioning enough.

These guys may be killing hockey in Canada. incredible.

I don't even think of it anymore. Hockey, the NHL, the Leafs, it's all so completely out of sight and out of mind that I would probably not hear about a pathetic "return" for a month or two.

Funny how something Canadians take so much pride in being stereotyped about has died out of conversation and interest completely.

I haven't had a conversation about the NHL in many many months.


It's sad when Torontonians are more interested in the Blue Jays in December than they are with hockey coming back.

The NHL should be worried.


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