TikTok partners with NHL on exclusive content deal

Folding more music, fashion and entertainment into already popular hockey content is a key component of the partnership.
TikTok mobile

TikTok has signed a deal with the NHL and National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) to deliver original content and experiences to TikTok’s growing community of hockey fans.

Music and entertainment are key components of the global partnership, which was designed and led by TikTok’s Canadian team. The NHL and TikTok will collaborate on tentpole NHL events including the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, NHL Stadium Series and the 2022 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic. The deal includes in-ice branding and the introduction of the TikTok Tailgate Stage, which kicks off the collaboration in Nashville on Feb. 26 with a performance from country star Walker Hayes, whose song “Fancy Like” went viral across the platform. His performance will be live-streamed exclusively on the NHL’s TikTok account.

The NHL and TikTok will also collaborate on other exclusive content, including player fashion interviews, Who Wore it Best and Get Dressed with the Best segments, as well as other programming designed to showcase players’ personalities and personal styles.

“TikTok is an extremely influential entertainment platform with a growing audience of Gen Z users,” said Heidi Browning, the NHL’s SVP, president and chief marketing officer, adding that the league hopes to reach the broader TikTok community with this partnership.

Hockey fans have already found their way to the app. The “#Hockey” hashtag has amassed more than 12.3 billion global views, while the NHL TikTok account has 1.7 million followers. Individual team accounts on the platform have amassed more than 546 million views globally. Generally, anything to do with sports and pets are highly popular on the app, and TikTok says trick shots, behind-the-scenes and off-the-rink activities have been particularly popular on the platform.

“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,” said Daniel Habashi, general manager for TikTok Canada, adding that the NHL and NHLPA recognize 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.”

Globally, TikTok has been rapidly expanding its partnerships, and in Canada, the ByteDance-owned app, recently partnered with Sportsnet and Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association to live stream a championship game Sportsnet’s TikTok account. TikTok also signed a deal with MLSE and the Toronto Maple Leafs in October, which included immersive in-arena and digital branding, and concession items inspired by TikTok trends.

TikTok’s popularity skyrocketed throughout the pandemic and is the most popular social media app among Canadian youth under the age of 18, according to research released by MTM in August. Although the app is not as popular with adults, WARC reported in April that TikTok users in Canada spent 17 hours per month on the app, taking the top spot from Facebook. Along with its growing popularity, the app has also introduced tools and partnerships to measure ad performance and issues surrounding ad fraud and brand safety.