I’m not going to mince words here.
Let’s start with the basics first: the Premier Hockey Federation dropped its schedule a full five days after the games on its slate started in earnest. The Boston Pride began its preseason on September 25, and the date of the headline announcing the schedule for the whole Fed? September 30.
Next, the games that were played prior to the schedule release had little to no exposure. I follow every single one of the team accounts and the league’s social media, and I had to be told by a colleague that the Pride were playing an exhibition game against Northeastern the same night I was covering Beauts practice in Amherst. Neither team’s accounts seemed to have any indication of a game being played, either.
Lastly, despite the schedule itself being made public and most if not all the games being shown with free in-person admission, there was no presence on the league’s streaming partner, ESPN+, nor on TSN+ or Twitch where international streams have continued to be broadcast. No streams. Not even live stats.
Do we see the issue here?
I understand that the players are attending and participating in these matches on a voluntary basis. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a concerted effort made to get these teams to organize, travel, book ice time, practice and lift and watch film. And it certainly doesn’t mean that a team’s fans don’t want to watch just because it’s not technically a competitive, in-season match.
If anything, preseason games are a prime time to get the fans back on the wagon and get them excited for what’s to come — it’s a great time to connect fans with new players, to get exposure for the biggest names, and to bring in the new market the league constantly talks about catering to. And the PHF and its teams have dropped the ball considerably here by not even trying to announce games in a timely fashion, let alone publicizing them.
It’s Season Eight, not Season One. This league has taken so many strides in the right direction with regard to its players and its standing as a professional organization, and yet the communication and marketing is still an issue year over year. I’ve been talking about this for ages now, and with the constant turnover season to season, it’s no doubt been difficult for the PHF to get its legs under it when it comes to maintaining its presence to the public and the media covering it. But that needs to be a priority if the league expects to see a double-digit tenure.
People need to know what’s going on, where they can actually see these teams in action, and they need to have access in more ways than just showing up in the stands (especially when the stands themselves are becoming less and less accessible, but that’s another story for another day). If the PHF values its fans and its players, it needs to really start putting the investment into a solid, consistent, and approachable platform for everyone.