When should teams contact fans during a crisis?

Published on March 17, 2020


On the Monday (3-16-20) immediately following the suspension of league operations, we asked 200 NHL fans from around the country to identify their favorite teams. Each fan then received one of three versions of the survey which asked how they would respond if they received this personalized email (right) request from their favorite team in:

  • The next two weeks

  • The next two weeks (plus, we included it would take 7-9 minutes to complete the survey)

  • The first two weeks in April (without the time to complete)

The best response by far was to administer the survey in the next two weeks (in March), with 100% positive response. Including the time needed to complete the survey had minimal effect (5% less likely) if the request comes in the first two weeks following the crisis. The worst case scenario is waiting past two weeks (until April), where 8% would be less likely. But that still means 92% are as on board as ever.


We then asked how they’d feel about the team if they received this request. Would we expect any public relations push back for asking about corporate partners? Since fans are starving for contact from their favorite teams, they overwhelmingly (97%) feel as passionate or even more passionate toward the team for the team reaching out to them to help. No significant differences emerge between the three different versions/dates.


Finally, we asked a general question regarding how much contact  fans would like from their favorite teams in the next 30 days. By and large, fans want at least as much contact (67%) as they did before the crisis and 21% want even more contact. The reason the few (13%) prefer less contact is not surprising: These are the ones who attend significantly fewer games (zero) compared to the other two groups that want the same contact (5 games) or more contact (13 games).


Following the scenario with one of the three versions/dates, the format of the three survey questions reported above are shown below.


Respondents were predominantly male (63%), on average 37 years old, and live within 57 miles of an NHL team. Of these, 9% have season tickets to an NHL team. On average, of the 70 games played, on average they watched 25 games and followed (digital/social) 28 games. Over half (55%) reported attending at least one game.

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