While Elgar Petersen Arena was the epicentre of Junior A hockey for one week in May, the 2012 RBC Cup reached much further than the borders of Humboldt, Sask.
From the east (Woodstock, N.B.) to the west (Penticton, B.C.) and hundreds of points in between, Canadian hockey fans thirsted for knowledge when it came to Canada’s National Junior A Championship.
A quick look at website numbers for the RBC Cup’s home at hockeycanada.ca tells an impressive story; already Hockey Canada’s most popular national championship, the RBC Cup surpassed all previous numbers in 2012, becoming the No. 2 destination on hockeycanada.ca for the entire year.
For the nine days of the event – May 5-13 – the home/news page for the 2012 RBC Cup was viewed 192,785 times (123,484 unique), with 163,095 of those views (84.6%) coming from the hockeycanada.ca/rbccup address.
Compare that to numbers from the 2011 RBC Cup in Camrose, Alta.: 144,820 views of the home/news page (95,994 unique), with 28,940 (19.9%) coming directly through hockeycanada.ca/rbccup.
It adds up to a 33.1% increase in overall visitors to the RBC Cup home/news page, and a whopping 463.6% jump in the number of visitors who got there using the hockeycanada.ca/rbccup address.
“We made a concerted effort to push the direct link throughout promotion for this year’s RBC Cup, and obviously that showed in the final numbers,” said Ryan Robins, Hockey Canada’s event manager for the 2012 RBC Cup. “We wanted to make it as easy as possible for fans of Junior A hockey to follow the national championship.”
But it wasn’t just the home/news page that saw jumps in web traffic; the schedule/results (113,175 to 170,680, +50.8%) and statistics/standings (32,934 to 44,244, +34.3%) both had significant increases, helping the RBC Cup sit behind only the IIHF World Junior Championship in terms of overall page views in 2012.
In all, the 2012 RBC Cup had the top 11 most-viewed pages on hockeycanada.ca during its nine-day run (including the pages mentioned above and individual game summaries), a stat made all the more impressive considering the tournament went head to head with the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
Aside from the website increases, the 2012 RBC Cup broke new ground in other areas, as well.
Into its second season, the RBC Cup Facebook and Twitter accounts went where no national event accounts had gone before – Facebook broke the 2,000-Like barrier, finishing at 2,776, while Twitter garnered 1,358 followers, both more than any other national event, by a considerable margin.
Then there’s the free FASTHockey webcasts – fans were able to check out every game (except the championship game, which was broadcast from coast to coast by TSN/RDS) just by liking the RBC Cup Facebook page.
And while the no-charge offer certainly bumped up viewership as compared to previous years (this was the first season Hockey Canada offered its games free) the numbers were impressive nonetheless.
The 12 games at the 2012 RBC Cup garnered 14,354 viewers, an average of 1,196 per game, with a high of 1,575 for the semifinal between the Penticton Vees and Soo Thunderbirds. In all, nine of the 12 games cracked the 1,000-viewer mark.
So what do the increased web numbers, social media fans and webcast viewership mean for the future, not only for the RBC Cup, but for all of Hockey Canada’s national events?
According to Robins, Hockey Canada will be employing full-time social media staff to really push the envelope on Facebook and Twitter, and all Hockey Canada events will see an increased video presence.
“We really feel that with the attention we’ve received over the last few years, along with some new things that we’re doing with video and social media and really promoting the teams and players, there’s nowhere to go but up,” he said. “We have some tremendous events, and they’re only going to get better.”