Throughout American history, entertainment has always held prominence within popular culture. In the 20th Century, America saw the emergence of a new brand of entertainment. By the early 1900's, sports was playing a key role in North American modern society. Today, sports is perhaps the most favored pas-time of all Americans. Americans play, watch, wager, read, and discuss immense amounts of sports.
But sports has found a new vehicle of communication. Sports is moving beyond traditional communication mediums. Sports has transitioned from arenas and stadiums to the Internet. The National Hockey League, is no exception.
The 1990's brought a whole new level of awareness to the sport of hockey, due in part to the NHL's utilization of a website. Since the inception of the NHL.COM website, the NHL has viewed the Internet as one of its greatest resources. The Internet is being used to target a future audience and NHL public, North America's youth. Youth will be future ticketholders, merchandise owners, and NHL buyers (Haber, 2001).
In an effort to improve its Internet image and increase revenues, on February 11, 2000, the NHL bought out its Internet partner, IBM. The buyout cost approximately $10 million and made the NHL the first major league sport to takes its Web business in-house. This in-house Web program does not include the up-keep of each team's website. However, the NHL has upgraded its own website, NHL.COM, to include more interactive elements and links to the thirty NHL teams. The NHL monitors its website, as each team monitors its own site, to ensure that appropriate audiences are being successfully targeted and a long-term strategy is being implemented effectively (Walker, 2000).
As stated previously, the NHL is composed of thirty teams. Although each team independently structures and regulates its own website, they are expected to incorporate certain content and design suggested by NHL guidelines. This is to promote unity and league consistency (NHLFEEDBACK, 2001). The basics of each team website include team information, community relation (or charity) activities, on-line sales, and the NHL Network banner across the top of the homepage. These principal categories will be looked at in closer detail throughout this website.