Virtual ads, real outrage

Advertising money makes the world go round these days… but that’s been a harsh realization for some of Canada’s most dedicated hockey fans. 

Driving the news: When the NHL kicked off its season last week, fans were quick to notice the addition of digitally enhanced dasherboards (DEDs) on rink boards, with some taking to social media to air their grievances around the “hard-to-watch” animations.

Why it matters: Fans may be resistant to the changes, but this moment marks a major financial boost for a league that has long looked for ways to unlock new revenue streams. 

  • This year, the NHL also green-lit a plan to introduce sponsor patches on the front of jerseys, a decision that also drew the ire of many fans.

  • When the NBA started selling jersey sponsorships in 2017-18, the league generated more than US$150 million in revenue on an annual basis.

Zoom out: Unless sports leagues start seeing a serious decline in viewership, they will likely continue to monetize every aspect of the game experience they can—but it’s a bit sad that the next generation of fans won’t know how nice and clean those old school jerseys looked.