NHL and SAP – Could it fit?

by: Ben Chen

 When you think of NHL and SAP, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the SAP Center. In the past month, SAP AG struck a $3.35 Million-a-year deal with the city of San Jose and Sharks Sports & Entertainment to receive the naming rights for the San Jose Sharks stadium. However it brings to question whether there’s more room for SAP and the National Hockey League than a stadium deal.

SAP’s involvement in other Major League Sports has already been exponentially growing. In the NFL, SAP partnered with the San Francisco 49ers on a custom software joint venture and then partnered with the NFL to power their Fantasy Football using cloud solutions. Even the NBA announced earlier this year that NBA.com/stats would be running SAP HANA. When Sr. Vice President of SAP Cloud Mike Morini was asked about SAP’s recent expansion into the sports and entertainment market he replied, “We spent forty years going business to business. Now, we want to go to customers and customers’ customers.”

The real question lies in how SAP could fit in with the National Hockey League. The simple answer?

Big. Data.

As with any of the other Major League Sports, the NHL has a bevy of data to work with. Moneyball references aside, a lot of the statistics could be used to build the fan experience. Here are a few ideas of how SAP could get involved:

NHL.com/Stats – similarly to how the NBA.com/stats was improved by SAP HANA, the NHL Stats could also do with a larger, faster, and more flexible database. With important stats like Goals, Assists, Plus/Minus, and Save Percentage constantly being looked at by fans, the system has to be able to run fast and be easy to navigate by all users. NHL.com/stats is also missing a large history of their team statistics which only go as far as the 1997/98 season.

Real-time – With the growth of Second-Screen experiences, being able to track real-time statistics can be a crucial part of building the hockey-consumer’s experience. Imagine being able to see exactly where the action happens on the ice when it happens, similar to EA’s NHL 13 Action Tracker mode below.

blog ben

*NOTE: The NHL offers NHL Gamecenter Live which offers similar real-time stats but for paid subscription.

Milestone Breaker – A potential system that could be built is an upcoming Milestone Breaker for NHL players and teams. This would be a system that could inform NHL fans of the records or milestones that could be broken within the next couple of days. For example, imagine being able to see that Henrik Sedin could be the Canucks all-time leading scorer within the next few games. The information alone would give fans the added incentive to watch the next few Canucks games in anticipation of the event.

In-house Fantasy Hockey – Similar to how SAP has worked with the NBA to bolster their Fantasy Football, it could work with the NHL as well. The NHL.com Fantasy could rival other competitors Yahoo! Hockey and ESPN and potentially include bonus statistics that NHL enthusiasts use such as a Salary Cap or a Team Lineup system.

There are limitless possibilities to a potential team-up with SAP and the NHL. Could this be a foreseeable fit for both parties? Yes. Here’s hoping that we see it!