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John Collins (born November 27, 1961) is an American sports executive who has spent most of his career with National Football League and the National Hockey League where he currently serves as Chief Operating Officer.
As the NHL’s chief operating officer since August 2008, Collins is responsible for strategic leadership and oversight for all of the League’s global business, marketing, sales, broadcast and digital media operations. Collins joined the NHL in November 2006. In May 2007, he earned the title of Senior Executive Vice President, Business and Media. His work with the NHL has led to a record number of sponsors and television viewers, resulting in a 66 percent rise in NHL advertising and sponsorship revenue.
In 2010, Collins was named an “Executive of the Year” by the American Business Awards, winning a Stevie Award for his success with the NHL.
Prior to joining the NHL, Collins spent 15 years with the National Football League. In 2004, Collins was hired as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cleveland Browns, succeeding then retiring Carmen Policy. That year he was also named one of the top 20 sports advertising executives by Sports Business Journal.
Starting in 2002 with the inauguration of the "NFL Kickoff" celebration at Times Square, he steered the NFL's focus toward big events, ultimately increasing NFL sponsorships by $1.9 billion, and doubled annual corporate sponsorship revenues to more than $200 million in 14 months. He also presided over the Super Bowl XXXVI halftime show featuring U2. These successes led to Advertising Age naming him one of America's top 50 marketers in 2003.
Collins began his career in professional sports with NFL Films, where he, helped introduce programming such as HBO’s Hard Knocks and Inside the NFL. Collins later teamed up with HBO Sports and its 24/7 reality franchise to develop “24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic.”  He eventually became Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales for the NFL, where he led all marketing, programming, sponsorship and advertising sales functions and was a key member of the team that launched the NFL Network. Collins' career began at advertising agency DDB Needham. At the NFL, Collins negotiated billions of dollars of marketing and advertising deals, including a landmark, 10-year, $1.2 billion league-wide deal with Pepsi.
[ NHL Winter ClassicEdit
In 2007, Collins spearheaded the development of the NHL Winter Classic, a high-profile New Year’s Day game played outdoors, with NBC Sports executive Jon Miller, who told The Boston Globe that the key to making the game successful was “Collins’s vision, energy, and passion.” The Classic’s success earned him Marketer of the Year by Advertising Age Magazine. Sports Illustrated columnist Dan Shaughnessy said of the new Winter Classic, “now hockey owns New Year's Day the way baseball owns the Fourth of July and football owns Thanksgiving.” Sports Business Journal named the NHL Winter Classic the 2008 “Event of the Year.” Revenues for the 2010 Classic, played between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers, were expected to generate $8 million in ticket sales at Fenway Park and $3 million in ad sales for NBC.
 Other major eventsEdit
Moreover, the start of the NHL season is now marked by NHL Face-Off, a hockey and entertainment street festival featuring musical performances in Toronto’s Dundas Square, and in 2011, the League will re-introduce the NHL Heritage Classic outdoor game in Canada. Under Collins' guidance, the NHL Awards Show has moved to Las Vegas.
Use of TechnologyEdit
Collins has made expanding technology to sports fans a priority in his career. He told Forbes his goal is to “surround our fan with ways to experience the game across all various kinds of tech and distribution so we’re not quite as tied to broadcast television, or even really cable television. We respect them, but we really want to go after the fans who are more tech savvy in more of a digital way."
Collins spearheaded the NHL Network Online, creating partnerships with news sites and portals (The Hockey News, ESPN.com, Yahoo), blogs (SB Nation, Bleacher Report, Yardbarker), video hubs (YouTube, Hulu), and digital retail outposts (iTunes, PlayStation Network). The NHL’s strategy under Collins is different than many other major sports franchises, which have resisted digital syndication efforts. This may be because, while hockey’s fan base is smaller, it is generally more affluent. NHL.com has seen significantly more traffic recently (up 135 percent from August 2009 to February 2010), receiving a record 13.4 million unique visits in January 2010.
Under Collins, the NHL has introduced an “all-access” service, tying together its online, radio, and TV offerings, including social and mobile outlets across multiple providers and handsets. This integration has contributed to a “66 percent annual average increase in sponsor support and ad spending on our media properties as well,” Collins told ‘’The Wall Street Journal’’. The League has also unveiled NHL GameCenter LIVE, enabling fans to watch out-of-market games via live video. These improvements in part led Fast Company Magazine to name the NHL one of the most innovative companies in 2009.
Technology has been a key part of Collins’ strategy to increase the NHL’s profile, using digital platforms like the NHL Network (in 38 million homes as of May 2010), mobile phones, and a satellite radio alliance with Sirius and XM to reach new audiences. Collins was quoted saying, “What we're seeing is some really well-designed products being offered across multiple platforms, which are providing content to that fan that, quite frankly, they're not getting anywhere else, and for which they have an almost insatiable appetite.” 
Collins has also spearheaded use of social media with the NHL, a move which Yahoo! Sports labeled one of the “Five best NHL decisions of the last decade,” noting, “The NHL had an official YouTube channel and Twitter before most other leagues knew those things are (and in fact the NFL and MLB still make YouTube pull down any clips using their broadcasts, which is six distinct kinds of stupid).” The article also praised the NHL for its use of Twitter-exclusive contests for their fans and the extensive archives on NHL.com.
As of November 2010, the NHL’s Facebook and Twitter pages have more than 1 million fans and a half-million followers respectively. Vitrue, Inc. named the NHL among the top-50 most social brands in the world.
Rising NHL popularityEdit
The NHL has seen considerable rise in viewership metrics recently. Game 6 of the Final on NBC was the most-watched (8.28 million) and highest-rated NHL game (4.7) on U.S. television in 36 years. In Canada, Chicago’s win over Philadelphia in Game 6 averaged more than 4 million viewers, the highest audience ever for an all-U.S. Stanley Cup Final on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. TSN’s playoff coverage in Canada was up 70 percent over 2009 while French language RDS coverage was up 84 percent. The Conference Quarterfinal and Semifinal rounds were the most-watched first two rounds on cable since the 1993/94 season when NHL Playoff viewership became available by Nielsen. For the entire playoffs, CBC averaged 2.102 million viewers, up 62 percent from 2009. The 2010 Stanley Cup play-offs saw the largest audience in the history of the sport “after a regular season that saw record-breaking business success, propelled in large part by the NHL's strategy of engaging fans through big events and robust digital offerings.” About these results, Collins said "I love the potential of our sport. The Stanley Cup is one of the biggest brands out there. We have an incredible fanbase and our league is filled with some of the best people around. We have an extraordinary opportunity for the NHL to take a giant leap forward, so this is a very exciting time for us." NHL.com reported that “the fruit of the surging television ratings and all those millions of pageviews” will be seen in 2011 when the league renegotiates its international broadcast contracts.
This success has resulted in a 66 percent rise in NHL advertising and sponsorship revenue. Collins said "It was a great Stanley Cup run, really across every possible metric .... Our fans are consuming more hockey." Merchandise sales were up 22 percent and the number of unique visitors on the NHL.com website were up 17 percent during the playoffs after rising 29 percent in the regular season.
Since 2007, the league has generated $330 million dollars in sponsorship (a 162 percent increase) and revenue has grown 85 percent.
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