- The National Hockey League partnered with athlete marketing platform Opendorse to help players boost fan engagement on social media and build their personal brands, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer. Opendorse lets players publish memorable moments, such as key plays or other game highlights, to their personal social channels immediately after the final buzzer sounds.
- Opendorse aims to save time for players by giving them a customized selection of photos, videos or GIFs instead of a more general library of media assets. Athletes can add or edit messages and use a single screen tap to approve the content for publication among social channels at a scheduled date and time.
- The New Jersey Devils in 2017 were the first NHL club to give players access to Opendorse. The startup also has marketing partnerships with the Ladies Professional Golf Association, NFL Players Association and the Women's Tennis Association, among other sports properties.
Sports leagues like the NHL traditionally have been top-down organizations that controlled how players communicated with fans, but social media have radically altered that dynamic. Instead of seeing their favorite players in controlled settings like media appearances, fans now have more direct, two-way channels for interaction. Meanwhile, athletes use social media to share everything from product endorsements to personal details about their lives. By partnering with Opendorse, the NHL is giving players software tools to publish customized content for their fans, helping them boost their individual brands and engagement with the sport by making it easier to post high-quality content on a regular basis.
As the first NHL team to work with Opendorse, the New Jersey Devils boosted its social media engagement from the lowest in the league to the top during the 2017-18 regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs. Ten more teams partnered with Opendorse for the 2018-19 season. So far, 110 NHL players have signed up to share content on the platform, Adweek reported.
Social media have transformed athletes into influencers, turning the stadium tunnel into a catwalk for sportswear brands and other products. Brands like Levi Strauss have boosted their sports marketing programs to connect with fans who follow their favorite athletes on social. The influence of those athletes-turned-influencers has contributed to the growth of the sports marketing industry, whose North American revenue from sponsorship and merchandising is set to rise 11% from last year to more than $35 billion by 2022, per a PwC forecast.