NHL Draft Guides

Image result for dumpster fire

Over the last few years I’ve noticed a frantic retreat by the major draft guides–varied attempts to prevent what’s clearly a slide in (paid) interest (I’ve gone over hockey’s declining popularity, along with most other major sports, previously). Let’s go over the last seven years (2013 onward), since that’s how long I’ve broken down the guides in a way that includes price. We’ll look at the changes and assess:

  • International Scouting Service (ISS): 2013 ($59.95–pre-ordered); 2017 ($10); 2019 (cancelled guide)
  • Red Line Report (RLR): 2013 ($50.00); 2019 ($90.00)
  • Hockey Prospect‘s (HP): 2013 ($39.99); 2018 ($49.99)
  • Future Considerations (FC): 2013 ($19.99); 2016 ($22.99); 2017 ($24.99); 2019 (no more direct download; guide hosted by them online)
  • (bonus) McKeen’s: 2013 ($30); 2019 (only accessible with a minimum 3-month subscription)

I haven’t tracked McKeen’s throughout the years, so I’m including them to make a broader point (given that they, like ISS, have abandoned selling a guide).

You could argue, rightly, that price increases are normal–there’s inflation to deal with. However, we aren’t seeing gradual changes like that generally. What did ISS do? For a long time they overpriced their guide to push pre-orders, but that model stopped being sustainable so they switched to become the cheapest guide out there (2017-18), hoping volume would make up for the revenue and now, just three years later, they’ve completely cancelled it. RLR’s change is even more drastic–the first price change they’ve made in at least a decade, suggesting declining volume (not a surprise given RLR hasn’t changed their coverage in forever). McKeen’s seems to be going the ISS route (although they still have their guide). HP’s hike is pretty high (25%), but given how long they kept it at $40 it’s not as clear it’s a sign of panic. FC decided to prevent direct downloads of the pdf, suggesting they’re worried about private sharing and, thus, every sale matters to them in a way it didn’t before.

Conclusions? Three of the five most popular draft guide publishers are in full retreat–ISS has given up, McKeen’s only sells it to boost subscriptions, and RLR has pushed out an absurd 80% price hike. There’s less obvious panic in HP and FC, although with FC hosting the content online you are at their mercy in terms of how long it remains available to you (I’m not a fan of that) [this has been corrected, see below]. To me this screams that there is less overall interest in the guides, therefore in the draft, and therefore in the NHL generally. Draft guides were always a niche part of the market anyway, so are only sustainable en masse when there’s significant demand. What survives, for now, is either the best or most accessible content, but for the draft in particular it’s the best content which remains with the least amount of change.

[Update: Aaron Vickers, of Future Considerations, got in touch with me after this with a couple of clarifications: you can download the guide–it’s simply not directly from the sales link (you do it via Adobe), and as such he’s not concerned with people having their copy directly; he also says sales are excellent. As I told him in response, my opinion here isn’t about the specifics of his guide (which has always been the best buy for casual fans), but about the overall trend without the guide-publishing industry.]

For those asking about my own draft dissection, it’s currently up in the air. It’s a tremendous amount of work and the interest is waning, so we’ll see what happens. If enough people ask I’ll make sure to do it, although it’s disappointing that I’ll have to switch some things up in the absence of both ISS and RLR (despite neither being very good for predictive purposes).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Advertisements

7 Comments

  1. I love your draft guide and have been reading it since you started. I eagerly await it every year.

  2. Have you made a decision yet regarding the draft.

  3. What about doing a mock draft 1st rd?

    • That’s definitely the easiest thing to do, so in terms of what’s likely it’s the most likely

  4. Guess the mock or draft is not happening for you.

    • Draft article is in progress–almost certainly out tomorrow, however. It’s pretty tricky to do given ISS dropping out, HP changing how it does things, & so on, but I’m putting something together.


Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply to Jeff Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.