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NHL and TikTok sign deal for tailgate parties and exclusive content

NHLPA on board for player-driven content on social video platform.

24 February 2022 Rory Jones

Getty Images

  • NHL teams have generated more than 546m views on TikTok
  • Ice hockey league has more than 1.7m followers on platform
  • TikTok to get on-ice promotion during NHL’s Stadium Series and Heritage Classic events

The National Hockey League (NHL) has announced a new partnership with social media giant TikTok.

The deal will aim to deliver a range of new fan experiences and activations across the short-form video platform, with the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) also signed up to help deliver player-driven TikTok content.

In addition, the partnership provides for a number of off-platform activations including on-ice branding and the introduction of the TikTok Tailgate Stage at two upcoming marquee outdoor NHL events. The partners will collaborate on selecting musical artists for the tentpole events, starting with the upcoming 2022 Stadium Series in Nashville and then at March’s Heritage Classic in Ontario, Canada.

Country music star Walker Hayes, whose song ‘Fancy Like’ was a hit on TikTok last year, is the first name confirmed for the pregame show at the Stadium Series on 26th February. Hayes’ performance will be exclusively livestreamed on the NHL’s TikTok for fans globally.

The NHL, which has 1.7 million TikTok followers and has seen its teams’ accounts accumulate more than 546 million views on the platform, will host similar events around its Stanley Cup playoffs later this year.

“TikTok is an extremely influential entertainment platform with a growing audience of Gen Z users,” said Heidi Browning, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at the NHL.

“While highlights are among our most engaging content, through this partnership, we hope to reach the broader TikTok community with exclusive content that captures the amazing fan experience at NHL games and tentpole events, player lifestyle videos, and concerts and global livestreams.”

Daniel Habashi, general manager of TikTok Canada, added: “Sports content is evolving; fans on TikTok want to see an authentic and multi-dimensional side of the athletes, leagues, teams, and games they love.

“We’re lucky to work with partners like the NHL and NHLPA who recognise this and want to bring music and fashion into the fold – two verticals that are both integral to TikTok and extremely popular with our global community.”

The league has previously launched a host of programmes on TikTok, and saw significant growth during the Covid-19 pandemic through content series such as ‘Hockey at Home’ and ‘Fan Skills’.

Speaking at SportsPro’s OTT Summit in November, Browning said: “TikTok really took off during the pandemic.

“That had exponential growth, we really love that platform because it’s real and raw, and it tends to skew younger and more female. That is absolutely one of our growth objectives – to connect with younger, more diverse and female audiences. So TikTok is really key and critical for that.”

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