The 2020-2021 season is coming to its climax, with four teams still battling to lift the Gagarin Cup. Members of the board were given a summary of the regular season, updated on the current COVID-19 situation and discussed the implementation of the KHL’s development strategy.
There were 690 games scheduled in the regular season, and only six of these were forfeited. On average, we saw 5.34 goals per game, up 0.41 on last season and the best for five years.
This season saw 218 players make their KHL debuts, compared with 160 in 2019-2020. We saw 124 junior players take to the ice in the KHL, an all-time record for the league. The previous best was 90 U20s in 2009-2010. The average age of our players dropped 27.04 years, the lowest in the KHL era.
The average capacity of the venues used in the KHL was 8,917 — the best in KHL history, up from 8,834 in 2018-2019. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, 20% of games were played behind closed doors. The average attendance at games where spectators were admitted was about 2,500 (compared with the 6,000 or so in a normal season), which represents about 28% of capacity (compared with 75%+ in normal years).
There were 2.8 million new subscribers to the KHL HD television channel, taking the total to 15.5 million. For the first time in KHL history, every broadcast was available in HD format.
The latest stats show that by March 29, 2021, the clubs of the KHL, JHL and Women’s Hockey League, plus the refereeing brigade for the leagues, were subject to 129,044 COVID tests. Of those, 111,720 were PCR tests, and 17,324 used the IgG+IgA methodology.
During this period (up to 30.03.2021), 1,377 tested positive, which represents about 30% of those tested (players, coaches, club and arena staff, officials):
KHL — 576 positive tests, of which 306 were players
JHL — 584 positive tests, of which 255 were players.
WHL — 105 positive tests, of which 60 were players.
The Board of Directors approved a new requirement for clubs to implement a medium-term marketing strategy. The strategy should take into account all key areas — working with fans, attracting sponsorship, ticketing programs, food concessions and digital projects — and be ready to start in 2022-2023. The new regulation follows the results of a study into the clubs’ marketing activities.
At the same time, the league is expanding its program of marketing seminars, which already form part of the development strategy. This will now feature practical cases that can help clubs maximize their commercial incomes via ticketing programs, outreach towards fans, integrated social media offerings and more. The active involvement of the clubs, and the willingness of experts to share their experiences, are crucial to the success of this project.
The Board of Directors reviewed the finding of the KHL’s strategic session on marketing and communications, which took place in December 2020. As a result, there were changes to the league’s development strategy requiring the league and its member clubs to implement specific programs aimed at Generation Z, the generation currently reaching early adulthood.
Starting from next season, the KHL and its clubs need to develop and launch projects to popularize the KHL brand and individual clubs among this younger audience.