Hockey: Who are the fans?

Photo courtesy of Hockey in Society

From a very young age, I had a passion for the game of hockey. This was in part due to my parents introducing me to the sport when I was four years old. As I grew older though, this spirit only intensified, even after I stopped playing at the age of 16. Now well into adulthood, I find myself still having a strong interest in the sport, even though I’ve been detached from any sort of hockey event or activity. I guess that’s what a fan is. No matter what sport it is, there’s always a huge fan base for a particular sport, team or player. But, who are these persons who call themselves hockey fans?

According to The Shelf, an influencer market firm, the average age of hockey fans in 2019 is about 50 years old and are primarily located in Canada (The Shelf). This figure actually increased quite a bit compared to the year 2000 when the average age was 33 (Notte 2017). It is no surprise that hockey is more popular in Canada than in the U.S.; we practically have snow year-round and is our greatest past time.

Photo courtesy of The Hockey Writers

As Chanin Ballance notes, it’s important to know who your audience is and sometimes, this means its ethnic makeup (Ballance 2010). For instance, you might be advised against promoting a cricket tournament in Siberia where warm and dry days are quite limited. However, there are exceptions of appealing to ethnic groups that are not part of a traditional fanbase. This includes large cosmopolitan cities, such as Toronto where there’s a wide array of ethnicities and cultures. A great example of how this manifested is Hockey Night In Canada’s televised broadcast in Punjabi.

Video courtesy of p00njabiHD

Still, a strategy should be developed that focuses on the correct demographic as much as possible. In this example, middle-aged viewers make up a significant part of the viewership. However, millennials aged 18-34 comprise 33 per cent of the NHL’s viewership, which is the second highest of all professional sport leagues for this demographic (The Shelf). If I had a hockey blog, I would share it through applications, such as Twitter, which would be much more useful to attract millennials who are more tech savvy, versus those born before 1970. Do you think hockey would become even more popular in the U.S.?

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