The Devils will play their (sold-out) home opener tonight – the team’s first game since selecting Jack Hughes with the number one overall selection in the 2019 NHL Draft. All-star defenseman P.K. Subban will also make his New Jersey debut after coming over in an off-season trade from Nashville. The two high profile additions have raised team expectations, excited the fan base and as newly appointed team president Jake Reynolds said “changed the trajectory of [the] business.”
Howie Long-Short: To ensure the organization was prepared to capitalize on the newfound opportunities that the June additions would bring the team built out its sales and content infrastructure “overnight”. The size of the sales staff grew +45% (from 60 to 105 employees), while the content team added nine new faces bringing its total head count to eleven.
“The excitement surrounding the franchise is translating to fans coming to the Prudential Center.” Reynolds said that 90% of 2018-2019 season ticket holders renewed for the 2019-2020 season (10% made their decision after learning the team was set to land Hughes), the club is among the top ten in the NHL in new season ticket sales and individual game sales are up +150% YoY. Despite the “significant uptick” in ticket sales the Devils are not sold out for the upcoming season.
Fans of opposing teams are now interested in seeing the Devils too. In fact, the club currently ranks 2nd – only behind the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues – in YoY ticket sales growth on StubHub. The NHL also scheduled New Jersey to play in four other teams’ home openers, a league record indicative of its newfound standing as a ‘must-see’ team.
The expanded content team has also produced immediate dividends. Reynolds said the team has broken “every single internal record related to social engagement, website traffic and video views – with each metric up at least +200% YoY. [The club] is 3rd in the NHL in Instagram engagement and 4th in the NHL in Twitter interactions since the draft.”
There’s financial upside to the team’s content production strategy, too. Reynolds says, “the future of the sports business is direct-to-consumer marketing; building a database, finding meaningful ways to engage fans and then finding ways to monetize [those channels].” For the Devils it’s also the present. The organization is one of just a few professional sports teams running pre-roll ads on social video content.
On the sponsorship front, the team signed two new deals over the summer; neither has been announced.
Fan Marino: “There’s an incredible amount of talent on the ice that is going to allow [the team] to compete not just in the short-term, but for years to come.” As constructed, Reynolds believes the team has a five-year window to win the Devils 4th Stanley Cup. In addition to Hughes and Subban, the team features the ’17 number one overall selection Nico Hischier and the top pick in the ’10 draft Taylor Hall.
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