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Bettman projects possible 6 billion in Revenue amidst dwindling viewership

February 5, 2023, 6:32 PM ET [1 Comments]
Jeremy Laura
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NHL viewership is down 22%. I posted about that yesterday. Very soon after the posting, Gary Bettman announced a potential increase in revenue to as high as 6 billion for this year (up from around 5.6). That is huge news, and incredibly interesting.

We’ve seen the helmet ads (some teams have home and away ads with different companies), jersey ads, floating virtual ads (that sometimes cover players) digital board ads (some that change every couple minutes to let more companies advertise) and the traditional ice ads. There are also 3 or more sports betting websites involved and the Detroit broadcast constantly updates odds, etc. all of these changes are being hailed as a much needed boost for the league.

So, we all remember the season of “the shutdown”. By March the league announced a loss of 1.5 billion and the MOU was being hashed out. The league keeps exceptionally close tabs apparently as all of this was ready to go almost from the full shut down. That’s when we were told 50% of HRR was at the gate/concessions/parking.

It’s the beginning of February and there are still 3 or 4 months of games to play (including February). HRR spikes at playoff time, so either something has changed, this projection could be based on trends, or there’s some hope involved in these numbers. A very important date is coming up, February 8th.

I talked about Disney and their now infamous 3rd quarter shareholders meeting. 1.5 billion lost on streaming alone, and 10 days later Bob Chapek was released to be replaced by his predecessor of less than 2 years ago Bob Iger. There are details of the meeting we still don’t know, but something significant happened in those 10 days that caused the CFO to have a late night board meeting before the change was announced. Official firing status of Chapek is listed as “none”. IE - he’s still getting his full salary for the contract he signed. In those 10 days, FTX (a cryptocurrency) collapsed. People are in legal trouble over some of the issues. The question was raised, did Disney have a significant stake and the response has been crickets.

February 8th is the next shareholder call. Details like total net losses for 2022 will be on the agenda. Streaming services has been targeted for months as “problematic”. Rumors abound as to what the “fallout” is going to look like. Disney now owns Marvel, chunks of Fox Entertainment (Simpsons), Nat Geo and ESPN. Scenarios of sell off or cancellation are being bandied about because that’s what press releases do when no one knows the answer. If the total net losses are in excess of 100 billion as speculated, changes are inevitable.

So, the first part of this is, good for the league. If they really have blazed a trail to 6 billion that should wipe out much if not most of the debt accumulated. The second part is, as always, wait for the revision. They happen often. We’ve had 3 this year. ESPN and Bally (formerly fox sports) will know more about their future after this coming Wednesday. Until then good news about league earnings is a breath of fresh air.
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