The National Hockey League season kicked off the 2021-22 season on Oct. 12 with a double header of televised games. The games had record viewership and highlighted the potential success for the league this season.
Here is a look at 7 stocks to watch during the 2021-22 NHL season.
1. Walt Disney: One of the big winners from a strong NHL season could be the Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS). Disney landed a deal with the NHL to bring games back to ESPN for the first time in 17 years.
Disney is paying a reported $400 million annually to be the lead television partner for the NHL. The seven-year contract sees Disney and Turner Sports, an AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) unit, splitting the coverage of NHL games that was previously aired with Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA).
Disney secured the rights to air 103 exclusive NHL games on ESPN, ESPN+, ABC and Hulu. The deal also includes over 1,000 out of market games to air on ESPN+. Disney will have the rights to the Stanley Cup Finals for four of the seven years, including the current season.
Disney reported that it is mostly sold out of advertising slots for the 2021-22 season and could hit $100 million in sales for the season.
“We are very, very well sold,” Disney advertising sales President Rita Ferro told Front Office Sports. “We have a couple of positions left, mostly in the playoffs and finals.”
The opening night doubleheader had average viewership of 884,000 viewers during the five plus hours of coverage. The night marked the highest season opener doubleheader on record. The first game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins was the most viewed opening game on cable of all-time. The later 10:30 p.m. ET game between the Seattle Kraken and Las Vegas Golden Knights was the second most viewed regular season NHL game to begin after 9 p.m. ET in the league's history, across cable and broadcast television.
2. AT&T: As mentioned above, Turner Sports is the other major television partner for NHL content. Turner is paying a reported $225 million annually on the seven-year deal with the NHL.
The first two NHL games to be shown on Turner’s TNT this season averaged 817,000 viewers and 522,000 viewers, averaging 670,000 for the double header. The viewership from the NHL games topped the WNBA Finals, a U.S. Men’s Soccer World Cup qualifier and NBA Preseason game on other networks. One of the two games was the most watched NHL game ever to air on the second night of a new NHL season.
3. Madison Square Garden Sports: Publicly traded Madison Square Garden Sports (NYSE:MSGS) is the owner of several sports teams, including the NHL’s New York Rangers. The company also owns the NBA’s New York Knicks.
The Rangers are one of the few sports teams that are publicly traded and have a strong NHL season for viewership, fan attendance and overall demand could be a catalyst for MSGS shares.
Sportico values the Rangers as the second most valuable NHL franchise at $1.87 billion, only trailing the $2 billion Toronto Maple Leafs. The value is split as $1.4 billion for the team and $470 million for the business and real estate division.
Sportico sees the Rangers posting revenue of $243 million in the 2021-22 season, an increase from $91 million last season and from the $229 million in 2019-20, which featured a full slate of fan attending games prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Madison Square Garden Entertainment: The owner of the namesake Madison Square Garden is Madison Square Garden Entertainment (NYSE:MSGE).
The company owns the arena that will enjoy a financial boost from the return of fans for Rangers games. MSGE is also the parent company of MSG Network and MSG+, two media channels that air Rangers games and other sports content.
5. DraftKings: Sports betting company DraftKings Inc (NASDAQ:DKNG) signed on as an official partner of the NHL recently. The deal includes DraftKings being an official partner for sports betting, iGaming and daily fantasy sports.
The deal also includes DraftKings being the exclusive integration partner of NHL content on the Turner Sports platforms. DraftKings will create sports betting and daily fantasy content for Turner Sports and Bleacher Report digital and linear media platforms centered on the NHL.
6. Super Group: Sports betting company Super Group, which is merging with Sports Entertainment Acquisition Corp (NYSE:SEAH), has a multiyear partnership with the NHL. The company’s Betway brand’s first sports league partnership is with the NHL.
The company launched an advertising campaign centered on the partnership during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs and will likely try to grow brand awareness during the 2021-22 NHL season.
Betway will have a corner-in-ice brand position during the biggest NHL events of the year, including the All-Star Game and Winter Classic.
7. Sinclair Broadcast Group: Media company Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ:SBGI) acquired the regional sports networks formerly owned by Fox (NASDAQ:FOX) in a purchase deal with Disney. The company has the rights to air many NHL teams locally throughout the country. The company has also explored launching a direct-to-consumer streaming platform.
NHL teams covered by the Sinclair Broadcast properties include the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings.
Disclosure: The author is long SEAH shares.