Off the top, I want to say a couple of things. First, the timing of this letter is not designed to disrupt opening day for the NHL -- I decided not to wait a few days before writing and posting it because I think that this is a really urgent issue that needs to be dealt with right away. Second, I'm not sending this to you privately because I'm pretty certain that you'd never see it. I'm hoping that by putting it out here on the internet it draws enough attention for this matter to be dealt with immediately.
What's the issue? I went to NHL.com yesterday and I saw something that thoroughly disgusted me:
It's not all that legible in this screenshot, but I'm attaching it just so you can see where on the page it's appearing. It's right down there at the bottom, below the auctions and above the NHL shield and the line of legalese. Now that you have an idea of where it is on the page, here's a closer view:
What's bothering me here? Those ads -- not the first one, which is for The Hockey News. That's a sensible ad. Not the second one, which is about meeting single women who like hockey. It's a little cheesy, but I don't have a problem with it. Now, the third and fourth ads -- those are problematic.
The third ad reads "Turn Your PC Into Super TV: Instant Access to 1000+ TV Channels, No Recurring Charges". Let's think about that for a minute -- if you go to their website and read their pitch, they offer to sell you this great software for thirty bucks that allows you to download any TV show you want, and you never have to pay another dime. Does that sound familiar? It should -- it's a file sharing program, the kind that the MPAA and RIAA are suing the users of seemingly every day.
So the third ad is for a service that's clearly illegal. Not only that, it mentions "unlimited sports programming" in the pitch -- they're stealing from you, Gary, and you are advertising their service on your own webpage.
The fourth ad is a classic scam, one that's been around longer than the internet -- "Get paid to fill out surveys, make tons of money doing nothing, just pay us up front and we'll tell you how to get started". I clicked on the link and checked out the site to be sure, but I recognized the scam from the three line ad copy -- this is a company that is selling you links to paid surveys that are free to join, but there's no guarantee that you fit the demographic or will ever be paid to complete a single survey. Plus, the links they are selling to you are easily found for free elsewhere.
That's one ad for an illegal service, and one ad for a scam. But here's what's worse -- I checked out the "Your Ad Here" link, to see what the rates are like:
That's right, a little over $300 a week is all that the NHL is getting paid for promoting piracy, and another $300 for delivering its fans to scammers.
Now, this wouldn't be so awful if the advertisements were on an automated system -- there would at least be some kind of distance between the NHL and this garbage, and it could be chalked up as an oversight. But the sign-up form for the advertising company notes that a representative of NHL.com must approve the ad before it goes into rotation.
Gary, someone who works for you is approving this junk and allowing it to be put on the NHL's website. It's a serious disservice to your fans, and a major embarassment for the NHL -- this is the league's flagship site, supposedly the number one place to go on the internet to read about hockey. Why are your people tarnishing the reputation of the NHL for a relatively miniscule amount of money?
Please, get someone to take down these ads. And please, put a better approval process into place.