The Canucks Fan Experience: 6-Year Evolution

It’s NHL playoff season and with it comes the intense focus, racing pulses, and the need to refuel and rehydrate with chicken wings and beer. Yes, it’s a tough time for fans.

As an avid Canucks fan, I’m happy to see the Vancouver Canucks make it back to the playoffs. With some seismic changes in the back office and some smart player acquisitions, the Canucks’ are bouncing back from last year.

Along with the corporate changes, the organization continues to expand and evolve its fan engagement and communication strategies.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover I had first written about the team’s social media outreach back in 2009. Then, it was how Twitter had redefined the Vancouver Canucks’ fan experience. It was a time when GM Place still existed, social TV was a term rarely used, and Twitter, tweet and hashtag still triggered perplexed looks. Those were the good old days.

In 2010, I observed that the fan experience had been redefined again with prominent people like @trevor_linden joining Twitter to engage with fans directly.

The team’s use of Twitter progressed in 2011 with Twitter contests and TV commentators prompting viewers to tweet @VanCanucks. The online and offline worlds were beginning to merge.

Fast-forward to 2015 and you’ll see the explosion of mobile, online and social media adoption by the Canucks, NHL, TV broadcasters, media companies, and fans.

The Canucks are now engaging fans online with a:

The Canucks are actively publishing content on these channels and the fans are responding, engaging and interacting on the profiles.

Beginning in January 2015, the NHL partnership with GoPro gave fans a different perspective of the game thanks to GoPro cameras mounted on players and referees.


Rogers GameCentre LIVE is offering live streams of NHL games across multiple devices, including desktops, smartphones, tablets, and more. The platform also gives fans the ability to view the game from unique camera angles (like the Ref Cam), instant replay, and behind the scenes content.

The hockey fan experience is evolving. Not only do viewers have increased options for passively consuming content, they have new opportunities for actively creating and participating in experiences.

Sure it’s fun for fans, but what’s the return on investment for those footing the bill?

NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, understands deeper fan engagement is not only necessary, it drives ROI. Bettman said, “The ability for (fans) to connect with us and with each other through social media has, I believe, helped grow the game.” NHL broadcast partners, NBC and NBC Sports Network saw a 12% increase in the average viewers per game during the 2013-2014 season compared to the previous season. Bettman attributes the growth to the NHL’s use of digital and social media, saying, “We’re growing season by season with record engagement, record attendance, record revenue. We think the digital space is responsible for that” (Source).

The theory is that audience engagement leads to increased viewership, which leads to increased revenue. This is why audience building and engagement is important for the long-term financial success of the NHL, the Canucks, and many other TV projects.

Will your digital strategy make it to the finals or will it crumble in the first round?

(Photo Credit)