Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US Hockey in America market including the behaviors, preferences, and habits of the consumer.

Despite being labeled one of the four major sports in the US, the sport of hockey is far closer to the secondary tier of the most popular sports in the country than the top three. Hockey still commands a sizable audience as roughly one in six consumers follow the sport, but that is only half the following of baseball and basketball and a third of football’s.

COVID-19 necessitated new methods of engagement with fans while the NHL completed its season in “bubble” environments. Teams have embraced the new methods and now utilize them in conjunction with traditional in-person techniques to enhance the fan experience.

Hockey fandom skews heavily toward male and white consumers. The NHL needs to continue looking for ways to grow its female and multicultural fan base for the overall longevity and success of the league and sport as a whole.

The pandemic led the NHL to embrace new inventory options for sponsors and advertisers. Many of these new options are here to stay and present brands with high visibility options to reach hockey fans on a consistent basis.

This report builds on several titles from Mintel’s Sports and Gaming Library, including Sports in 2021: Incl Impact of COVID-19 – US – November 2020 and Sponsorships and Sports Marketing – US, September 2020.

Read on to discover more about the Hockey in America consumer market, or take a look at our other Sports market research reports.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior, hockey marketing, and the hockey market.
  • How consumers engage with and follow hockey.
  • The importance of the new media deals for the NHL and consumer fandom.
  • The future trends set to take hold in hockey.

Covered in this report

Brands include: Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Clubhouse, NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL, ESPN, Turner, ESPN+, HBO Max, Washington Capitals, ABC, TNT, TBS, Shavelogic, Discover, Capital One, NWHL, WEAR, Geico, Mercury Insurance, Madden, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Bud Light, PointsBet.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Colin O’Brien, a leading analyst in the Sports sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Hockey is at a bit of a crossroads. While considered one of the four major US sports, it faces far greater competition for fourth place than it gives for third. Looking ahead, the sport can focus on growing its fan base by driving interest among new target audiences such as kids and women and utilizing new methods to better reach and connect with all fans.

Colin O’Brien, Sports Analyst
Colin O’Brien
Sports Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas:
    • Definition
    • Economic and other assumptions
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Passionate hockey fandom feeds the halo effect
    • The NHL looks to more content and platforms on social media
    • Social awareness becomes a greater focus for the hockey world
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Sports fandom by sport, 2021
    • Impact of COVID-19 on hockey
      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on hockey, 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • New NHL broadcast deals are wins for the league and fans
    • New inventory creates numerous opportunities for brands
      • Figure 3: New sponsorship opportunities within NHL
    • The NHL is wagering heavily on sports betting
      • Figure 4: Hockey betting, by gender and by age, 2021
    • Hockey should highlight female and multicultural successes in the sport
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • The NHL is one of the four major sports, but it is a clear fourth
    • The NHL and fans win with new broadcast deals
    • NHL leads by example for sustainability initiatives
  4. The Hockey Landscape

    • Market overview
      • Figure 5: Sports fandom by sport, 2021
    • Impact of COVID-19 on hockey
      • Figure 6: Interest in hockey post-COVID-19, by age, 2021
  5. Market Factors

    • New NHL broadcast deals are wins for the league and fans
    • New tech enhances the in-person experience for fans
    • NHL leads by example for sustainability initiatives
      • Figure 7: NHL water improvement initiative
    • Hockey places a focus on mental wellbeing
      • Figure 8: Canucks’ Tyler Motte shares his story about living with depression
  6. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Shavelogic utilizes playoff beards for first sports partnerships
    • Discover seeks to be the leading sponsor of hockey in the minds of consumers
    • New inventory opportunities for brands arise from COVID-19
  7. Competitive Strategies

    • Shavelogic turns to hockey for first sports partnerships
      • Figure 9: Shavelogic playoff beard shave
    • Discover embraces role as one of the leading sponsors of the NHL
      • Figure 10: Discover NHL credit cards
    • Florida Panthers utilize appeal of college athletes under new NIL rules
      • Figure 11: Florida Panthers make NIL history
  8. Market Opportunities

    • New inventory creates numerous opportunities for brands
    • Jersey and helmet sponsors
      • Figure 12: Washington Capitals helmet sponsor
    • Presenting sponsors
      • Figure 13: NHL division sponsors
    • Virtual ads
      • Figure 14: Virtual in-ice signage
    • Invest in women’s hockey
      • Figure 15: Lack of women’s hockey coverage, by gender and by age, 2021
    • Expand the international fandom of hockey
    • Hockey will continue to look to NFTs for ever-expanding opportunities
      • Figure 16: Interest in hockey merchandise, 2021
  9. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Passionate hockey fandom feeds the halo effect
    • The NHL looks to more social media content and platforms
    • Social awareness becomes a greater focus for the hockey world
  10. Exploring Hockey Fans

    • Hockey is one of the four major sports, but a distant fourth
      • Figure 17: Sports fandom by sport, 2021
      • Figure 18: Hockey league fandom, 2021
    • The NHL seeks to grow its youth fan base
      • Figure 19: Sports fandom by sport, by age, 2021
    • Representation matters and hockey should highlight underrepresented successes
    • Gender
      • Figure 20: Sports fandom by sport, by gender, 2021
    • Race
      • Figure 21: Sports fandom by sport, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
      • Figure 22: 2021 brought NHL’s first all-Black starting line
    • Educate the non-fan to help grow the game
      • Figure 23: Barriers to hockey fandom, 2021
      • Figure 24: Themed hockey broadcasts, 2021
  11. Following the Action on the Ice

    • Fans still turn on the television to follow hockey
      • Figure 25: Methods for following hockey, 2021
    • Hockey embraces new social media content and platforms
      • Figure 26: Top three reasons for using social media to follow hockey, 2021
      • Figure 27: Pittsburgh Penguins TikTok schedule release
      • Figure 28: Social media posting/sharing, by age, 2021
    • Tap into additional content around hockey
      • Figure 29: Interest in virtual experiences, by age, 2021
      • Figure 30: Interest in extra content, by age, 2021
  12. Cultivating Fandom

    • The hockey halo effect
      • Figure 31: Hockey halo effect, by age, 2021
    • Utilize hockey merchandise to further the fan connection
      • Figure 32: NHL Reverse Retro jerseys
      • Figure 33: Purchase likelihood for hockey merchandise, by age, 2021
    • Hockey creates opportunities for brands across industries
      • Figure 34: Marketing in hockey, by age, 2021
      • Figure 35: Brand integrations in hockey
    • The NHL is wagering heavily on sports betting
      • Figure 36: Likelihood to sports bet on hockey, by gender and by age, 2021
  13. Social Awareness

    • Hockey embraced the intersection of sports and social awareness
      • Figure 37: Hockey and social awareness, by age, 2021
    • Showing ongoing support through the pandemic
      • Figure 38: Flyers vaccine PSA
    • Supporting the youth
      • Figure 39: NHL Most Valuable Teacher Award presented by SAP
  14. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  15. Appendix – The Consumer

      • Figure 40: Sports fandom by sport demographics index, 2021
      • Figure 41: Sports fandom by sport, by generation, 2021
      • Figure 42: Marketing in hockey, by gender, 2021
      • Figure 43: Likelihood to play hockey video games, by gender and by age, 2021
      • Figure 44: Hockey and social awareness, 2021

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