TikTok has announced a new partnership with the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), which will see the NHL share original content and “unique experiences” in the app, helping to bolster TikTok’s broader content push.
As explained by TikTok:
“We know the TikTok community loves sports – whether it’s soccer, rugby, or car racing – we’re redefining entertaining sports content. With 12.3 billion global views, it’s undeniable that #Hockey is gaining momentum. The @NHL on TikTok has steadily grown its account to 1.7 million followers, team accounts on the platform have amassed more than 546 million views around the world. Content like trick shots, behind the scenes and off-the-rink activities, and anything to do with sports and pets are favorites of the community.”
The new partnership will see the NHL post more than just highlights, with additional player fashion interviews and other programming that will be designed to lean into TikTok trends and engage its in-app audience.
For TikTok, it will also glean new promotional benefits, including in-ice branding and the launch of a new ‘TikTok Tailgate Stage’ at upcoming marquee outdoor NHL events. The NHL will also work with TikTok on music tie-ins and partnerships for its events.
The announcement comes as TikTok works to build its content offerings, and provide more incentive for creators to keep posting to its app. The challenge with short-form video content is effective monetization – because you can’t insert pre and mid-roll ads into a 30-second clip. TikTok has sought to counter this with its Creator Fund, while it’s also working on in-app tipping and other monetization tools, but some of its top creators have started to raise questions about the platform’s approach, and the imbalance in revenue share for their efforts.
That could become a bigger sticking point for its top stars, which could eventually see them shuffle off to YouTube and Instagram instead. But if TikTok can provide more direct posting incentive, through initiatives like new partnerships with major brands, that could provide another way for TikTok to connect creators into these deals, and facilitate more pathways to audience growth and monetization.
Which is why TikTok’s also established exclusive content deals with Vogue and GQ, focusing on another key area of interest for TikTok users, and through these new partnerships, TikTok will be looking to maximize immediate engagement, while also providing more opportunities for its top stars.
Will that work? It’s hard to say – currently, popular creators can make a lot more money on YouTube, while the growth of YouTube Shorts also reduces the value of TikTok as a unique offering in some ways as well.
But TikTok still has a firm grip on audience attention, with projections that it will reach 1.5 billion users this year.
If creators want to go where the audience is, they’ll keep heading to TikTok – but if rumblings around revenue share continue to grow, that could eventually see more of them posting elsewhere instead, and likely taking their audiences with them.