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NHL to reward followers in China with new engagement program

SHENZHEN, CHN - SEPTEMBER 15: Fans enjoy the Boston Bruins vs the Calgary Flames game at the Universiade Sports Center on September 15, 2018 in Shenzhen, China. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL wants to enlist fans who will act as content creators and ambassadors for the league as it ramps content to its fans in China.

Ice hockey enthusiasts in China who have a unique point of view of Chinese hockey, leadership qualities, are active online, and are willing to organise offline activities are being encouraged to join the NHL’s recently launched initiative.

So called ‘fan leaders’ will be rewarded for their engagement by receiving benefits such as their own custom NHL jersey, free NHL.TV access for one year, tickets to future NHL China Games matches, and opportunities to participate in select VIP activities.

To earn these rewards the eventual participants will be expected to watch NHL games, share official NHL content on social channels, collaborate and create content, create and manage NHL fan clubs, and participate in NHL China events.

NHL vice-president, international marketing Joe Loreski said: “Engaging our fans across the globe is of paramount importance….The NHL fan leaders program demonstrates that objective in China, as we will identify and collaborate with those that display the enthusiasm and initiative to engage hockey fans with fan-driven content and commentary, delivered via the NHL’s growing social media channels.”

The first set of NHL fan leaders will be announced as soon as the league has entered its return to play stage for the 2020 Stanley Cup qualifiers and playoffs.

The Stanley Cup qualifiers and playoffs are being broadcast on CCTV-5+ and Tencent Sports, the NHL’s official broadcast partners in China.

The NHL is also building an active presence on five social media platforms in China including Weibo, WeChat, Douyin, Toutiao, and a Mini-Program, with a combined 1.5 million followers.

The league has made a concerted effort to expand its footprint in China in recent years. In 2017, the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks played pre-season games in Shanghai and Beijing, while in 2018 the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames faced each other in exhibition games in Shenzhen and Beijing.

Last year the NHL leveraged Alexander Ovechkin’s star power to continue its efforts to grow the game in the country. The Russian, who led the Washington Capitals to Stanley Cup glory in 2018, spent a week in Beijing in his role as an international ambassador for the NHL.