Hockey is serious business in Canada, with Saturday night a sort of shared ritual that the nation has long since held as a cornerstone of our culture.
When there's no hockey, Canadians are either happy that it's summer, or discombobulated due to what was in this case a lockout.
There have been a number of lockouts in the North American hockey industry over the past couple of decades. For much of this recent lockout, all signs pointed to an inevitable cancellation of the season. Fortunately for public broadcasters who depend upon hockey revenue, the season was salvaged at the last second as an agreement was reached between team owners and players.
One suggestion is that social media, in amplifying the concerns of fans and corporate sponsors, helped put pressure on the hockey industry to get it together and get back to work. Bruce Dowbiggin in the Globe and Mail argues that social media was the "one player in the drama who came out ahead. Social media, the new voice in the field of NHL opinion, emerged as a powerful voice by defying both the league and traditional media who have long brushed them off."
Later in the article I elaborate:
Ironically, the NHL could have found all the research it needed to gauge public opinion on its reckless gambit during the lockout. “The [fans’] interest, or lack thereof, is entirely measurable. It’s silly for the media to speculate on what fan response will be, or conduct silly polls, when the data exists via social media.,” Jesse Hirsh, president of Metaviews.ca, said in an e-mail.
“This go-round they could measure fan interest, they could measure that geographically, and they could project how much market or audience they’re losing and thus how hard it will be to get it back to the numbers they need,” Hirsh said.
“I think they also have the resources to mine social-media data, so moving forward they will be in a much better position to measure the value of their sponsorship and engagement with the NHL and its franchises. Ironically they may become advocates of fan sentiment as they are armed with what is being said on social media and use that to compel the NHL to adapt to their and the fan’s needs.”