Watching and participating in sports is a huge part of North American culture, whether it be watching the NFL from the south of the border or rooting for your local Canadian hockey team. However, while sports overall are a huge part of North American culture, there’s nothing quite like it when it comes to ice hockey.
Being as it is a national sport in only two countries across the world; Canada and Finland, there’s no surprise that Canadians are so passionate about the game. So, what’s the appeal for the rest of the world? As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side and by human nature, people are drawn to what they don’t have. Canada was home to the first official hockey league, making it one of the most authentic places to watch hockey for fans across the world.
While watching national hockey is limited to only two countries in the world, that doesn’t mean that fans can’t get involved with their favorite sports from afar. Thanks to the ability to take part in betting online, hockey fans can now scan the odds and get involved with the action of the game, even as it unfolds in real time.
So, without adieu, let’s dive into why Canadian ice hockey is so popular across the world and what the appeal really is.
International viewing of Canadian ice hockey
There’s no doubt that across the world, ice hockey is one of the most popular sports to be televised. In 2019, the Ice Hockey World Championships drew in more than 1.6 billion viewers globally, with audiences breaking the one billion mark for a fourth year in a row.
The championships were broadcast to over 155 countries, in which over 200 hours of footage were provided for the whole tournament. Part of what has made these international televised games so popular is the development of technology, in which the 2019 games benefitted from being filmed by 4G cameras that allowed fans to feel like they were really part of the action – even if they were thousands of miles away.
Statistics also show that recorded footage of the international games became even more popular in the latest showings, with 118% more viewers tuning in for the games.
Ice hockey’s popularity in Canada
While it may be a national sport, the popularity of ice hockey in Canada has faced some challenges over the years. With the introduction of baseball and basketball just under a century ago, these newer sports gave the traditional fame of ice hockey a run for its money. However, as ice hockey began to be introduced to non-native nations like the USA, the authenticity of the sport became diluted for a while across Canada. With the introduction of the Olympic Games being hosted in Canada in the 60’s, ice hockey once again became a national pride, with its popularity beginning to spread across the world.
While it was a tradition for Canadian families to gather around the television on a Saturday to watch the game, the influx of international residents in Canada meant that the popularity of the sport was also rubbing off on non-native residents. Coupled with the development of technology that enabled Canadian ice hockey to be televised across the world, Canadian ice hockey became the sport to watch, whether it was your national sport or not.
International merchandise sales
Sales of Canadian hockey merchandise have been popular globally for a number of years, with major brands like Rebok and Adidas getting on board as international merchandise suppliers. In fact, in 2022, Adidas became the official supplier of on-ice uniforms where they designed a ‘Reverse Retro’ line that became popular globally. The line featured alternative jerseys that incorporated references from the franchise’s history, with a brand new and innovative color scheme.
While national hockey league sales don’t quite top that of European football merchandise sales, worldwide sales of hockey merchandise topped more than $26 billion in 2018. As for the ‘Reverse Retro’ jerseys, some designs were sold for more than $275 apiece. As Canadian hockey is also incorporated into pop culture with the likes of Snoop Dog and designer Tommy Hilfiger getting on board, hockey merchandise is set to grow even bigger internationally.
Overall, while Canadian ice hockey has had its ups and downs over the years, it’s now thriving in the international market. Thanks to the widespread development of technology that allows Canadian ice hockey to be televised across the world, the target market for the national sport is growing daily. Coupled with a continuously growing international community in Canada, the nation’s passion for this arctic sport is now becoming much more widespread than the North American continent.
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