The Washington Capitals aren’t the only organization in the National Hockey League celebrating the just-concluded season.

Fueled by the league’s new supplier deal with Adidas and first expansion team in more than 18 years, sponsorship spending on the NHL and its 31 clubs grew 10.8 percent to $559.5 million in the 2017-2018 season, according to ESP research.

The increase is more than double the 5.5 percent increase in the 2016-2017 season as well as the projected 4.9 percent increase in overall 2018 sports spending and 4.5 percent increase in overall sponsorship spending.

The NHL and Adidas announced the seven-year deal in 2015, although it did not kick in until the 2017 season. The partnership, which affords the right to supply on-ice uniforms and licensed apparel and headwear, is reportedly valued at twice the amount paid by Reebok, the league’s previous supplier.

Other new deals at the league level include Apple (a partnership that began with the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs), Hulu, Great Clips and Oikos, the official yogurt of the NHL in Canada. Renewals include multiyear partnerships with PepsiCo and Scotiabank, the latter of which continues a decade-long partnership that began in 2007.

Three other sponsorship developments in the recent NHL season:

Retail Dominance
Retailers (auto parts stores, c-stores, etc.) replaced autos as the most active category sponsoring the NHL in the 2017-2018 season.

Retailers are 4.8 times more likely to sponsor the NHL than the average of all sponsors. Autos follow in second (4.3) with quick-service restaurants in third (4.2).

Professional services and restaurants joined the top-ten most active categories list, while technology and sports apparel dropped off.

Post-season Packaging Strategy
Like other pro sports leagues, the NHL is placing more focus on selling sponsorship to post-season games.

Deals include Hulu, the presenting sponsor of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs and Finals, and Great Clips, a playoff cosponsor.

Esports Debut
The NHL entered the esports waters in 2018 with the launch of the NHL Gaming World Championship, a joint venture between the league and three global broadcast partners. The tournament pits players against each other on PS4 and Xbox One versions of EA Sports’ NHL 18.

The league has upsold a handful of sponsors on the tournament including Bridgestone and Honda (global sponsors), Dunkin’ Donuts and Geico (U.S.), and Scotiabank and PepsiCo Beverages (Canada).

NHL League/Team Sponsorship Revenue
NHL League/Team Sponsorship Revenue

Most Active Brands Sponsoring the NHL
Most Active Brands Sponsoring the NHL
Seventy-five percent of properties with a sponsor in the rental car category report a partnership with Enterprise.

Most Active Categories Sponsoring the NHL (League and Teams)
Most Active Categories Sponsoring the NHL
Retailers are 4.8 times more likely to sponsor the NHL than the average of all sponsors.

NHL Team Sponsorship Rankings
NHL Team Sponsorship Rankings