Wednesday night, I spoke with a high ranking sports executive for one of the major sports and he offered his take on the NHL TV deal.
Here's what he said:
Bottom line on NHL/NBS TV deal: Americans will now be able to find a hockey game on their TV menu guide. Five times as many games per year broadcast in a way that Americans will understand.
NBC coverage instantly gives NHL credibility as a major professional sport in U.S....This deal is 100% about sampling NHL product to Americans with no hockey heritage. NBC will drive US sports fans awareness, education, trial, repeat of TV hockey. Growth in NHL viewership will also command more coverage from ESPN and the tipping point effect will begin.
This is a different and interesting perspective. It characterizes the deal as an investment in the future of the game with a willingness to look long term.If there are still 20 or more U.S. NHL teams in 2020, it will be because of this deal.