NHL teams for ‘Mission: Impossible’

League sees overlap in moviegoing audience with Paramount pact

The NHL has made its first major pact with a film studio, teaming with Paramount for the release of “Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol.”

During the Boston Bruins-Detroit Red Wings game Friday on NBC, the net will offer clips and promote the upcoming Tom Cruise sequel, which opens wide Dec. 21. In addition, the league’s “NHL Mission Impossible” sweepstakes will be touted for five weeks, through the start of the new year.

The league, whose fan base is the most youthful of the four major sports, according to NHL research, has long wanted to team up with a film studio in hopes of tapping into an audience that is similar to the young moviegoer demo.

Also, said Keith Wachtel, the league’s senior VP of integrated sales, the NHL can offer studios and the Hollywood community a viewership that is spread throughout all of North America, not just the U.S.

“We have a tremendous demographic that overlaps with movie studios, with much of it an affluent male audience,” Wachtel told Variety. “We haven’t done a great job in the past to show studios what the NHL has to offer, which is a true North American business.”

In addition to NBC, other NHL-related telecasts will integrate “Ghost Protocol” clips and game footage. The NHL is also seen on the Peacock’s sports cabler Versus — soon to be rebranded as NBC Sports Network — as well as TSN in Canada.

After having already established the annual Winter Classic as a branding event, the NHL is looking to make another beachhead with the post-Thanksgiving Friday. This year’s game — marketed as the “NHL Thanksgiving Showdown” — will signify the earliest time of the season that an NHL game will be nationally televised on a broadcast network.

Wachtel said the league will stay in contact with the studios all season long, especially when the Stanley Cup playoffs arrive in late spring. That’s when the studios are looking for increased promotional heft for their summer blockbuster releases.