- The NHL has signed a deal with DreamHack to upgrade their esports offerings.
- The NHL already has an annual video game championship called the ‘NHL Gaming World Championships’.
- DreamHack’s mission is to expand the league’s visibility and presence in the esports industry.
Esports are booming in popularity and professional sports teams have started to pay attention. It became evident even to the most backwards hillbilly when during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic virtual recreations of NASCAR races began to do solid TV ratings. That’s led to NASCAR–among many other professional sports leagues–making a stronger commitment to esports. Not only does it help them grab eyeballs now it helps them grow their fanbase among a younger, more affluent demographic.
The National Hockey League was one of the first sports leagues to have a transcendent video game–it has ingrained itself so deeply in pop culture that it even has a well known nickname (‘Chell’) and likely introduced thousands of current NHL fans to the sport of hockey itself. The NHL already has their own esports competition called the ‘NHL Gaming World Championships’ but now they’re looking to grow the size and scope of their esports offerings. To facilitate this, they’ve partnered up with Copenhagen based DreamHack Sports Games to expand their presence in the booming esports industry. DreamHack will be charged with operating live and online esports events such as the NHL Gaming World Championships as well as creating new events and other programs.
For the NHL, this is good on a couple of levels beyond attracting eyeballs and new fans to the sport. It helps them bring in sponsors and could provide ancillary revenue streams down the road. DreamHack is highly experienced in the ‘traditional’ esports space and their Sports Games division was founded to expand their presence into sports oriented videogames. DreamHack Sports Games already organizes and operates competitions for the top Nordic professional soccer leagues including Denmark’s eSuperligaen, Sweden’s eAllsvenskan, the Netherlands’ eDivisie. They also operate a golf esports competition called The European Etour in conjunction with European Tour and Topgolf Entertainment Group.
Chris Golier, Vice President of Business Development and Innovation at the NHL, says that DreamHack Sports Games is excited to see how the new partnership leverages the existing popularity of the Gaming World Championships:
“We have built a great base for competitive gaming at the NHL over the past three years and have seen our Gaming World Championship capture the attention of fans and gamers across the globe. This partnership with DreamHack Sports Games will help to strengthen our brand in the gaming ecosystem as they provide world-class production resources and longstanding relationships in the industry.”
Roger Lodewick, CEO of DreamHack Sports Games, is happy to expand his company’s roster into professional hockey:
“This cooperation with the NHL is a landmark moment for us. It is a confirmation of the innovative work everyone at DreamHack Sports Games has been doing in the Sport Gaming vertical. We’re genuinely proud and privileged to work with the NHL team to produce and jointly sell these amazing NHL esports properties.”
No real details about the partnership yet but keep your eyes open for more news out of the NHL’s esports division.