George Stroumboulopoulos; Ron MacLean

Canadian fans say NHL hockey is ‘hipper’ under Rogers (Survey)

Respondents in SRG survey also identify Tim Hortons as a leading NHL sponsor

Though the average NHL fan in Canada watches 3.5 games every two weeks, opinions of Rogers Communications as the league’s new broadcast home – and of George Stroumboulopoulos as the new host of Hockey Night in Canada – are mixed.

They are among the findings of the Sports Audience Report – NHL Mid-term, created by Toronto-based Solutions Research Group based on a series of December interviews with 1,500 people aged 12+.

The report found 38% of respondents watch between two and four games every two weeks, with 17% watching between five and nine games, and 4% watching between 10 and 14 games. However, 21% of respondents said they did not watch an NHL game during a two-week period.

The report also noted more millennials follow the NHL and its stars via online/mobile and social media (33%) than they do on TV (31%). Boomers, meanwhile, still overwhelmingly prefer TV for following the NHL (56%).

Asked to identify companies that sponsor hockey or advertise during games, and which ones they’ve identified on TV, online, mobile and other places in the past month, Tim Hortons was the most common response, followed by Molson, Scotiabank, Rogers and Bell. Other companies identified by respondents included Canadian Tire, Budweiser, Ford, Visa and Coca-Cola.

The report also underscores how brands are perceived by different generations. While Tim Hortons was the first brand identified by teens, millennials and Gen-Xers, for example, Molson was the first brand identified by boomers. Scotiabank was the second most cited brand by both teens and Gen-Xers, while Rogers was the second most cited brand among millennials and Tim Hortons the second most identified among boomers.

Asked to rate how Rogers is doing as Canada’s new home of NHL hockey, 7% of respondents gave it a perfect score of 10, while 38% of respondents gave it a mark between 7-9 and 4% of respondents gave it a “poor” rating.

Overall, Rogers received an average mark of 6.1 out of 10, with millennials giving it the best overall score (6.5) and boomers giving it the lowest (5.8).

Respondents gave new Hockey Night in Canada host George Stroumboulopoulos an average mark of 5.7 out of 10, with millennials ranking him highest (6.2) and boomers again ranking him lowest (5.2).

Asked to identify the biggest changes in this year’s NHL telecasts, respondents cited the availability of more out-of-town games, more games on additional channels and a “hipper” feel to telecasts. One person’s response: “It’s different, trying to appeal to the younger viewer somewhat but I’m still fine with it.”

Among the biggest complaints lobbed at Rogers were fewer Montreal Canadiens games and less access to French broadcasts, while some respondents described the new telecasts as “flashy” and “gimmicky.”

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