Saturday, April 30, 2011

Some New Info On NHL TV Deal

Courtesy of the SportsBusiness Journal, a few interesting bits of information have emerged regarding the new NHL TV Deal (here's my initial assessment):

(1) ESPN made an aggressive and expansive offer. ESPN proposed televising every Stanley Cup playoff game nationally. The network also said it would stream the games and guaranteed an international component as part of its offer. As well, the ESPN would air a game of the week. Rumours were the dollar figure was somewhere around $170 million per year. However, ESPN never made a formal proposal.

(2) NBC had to rally the troops after ESPN's offer, the strength of which was a surprise. However, remember NBC/Comcast had the right to match so they could afford to sit back and react.

(3) Ultimately NBC offered to telecast every Stanley Cup playoff game on NBC, Versus and at least one other national cable channel (E! channel anyone with Ryan Seacrest as PXP guy?). On top of that, NBC and Versus would get 100 exclusive windows each season for regular season games (old number was about 60). As well, NBC committed to broadcast a national game the Friday after Thanksgiving, "a day traditionally reserved for college football".

(4) The NHL believes that broadcasting every Stanley Cup playoff game nationally will create the same excitement associated with the NCAA tournament.

(5) Turner/TruTV did look at the NHL. However, it was concerned over the low ratings on Versus. TruTV averaged 1.1 million viewers in prime time, compared to 353,000 viewers for Versus hockey. Ultimately, Turner didn't make a formal offer.

(6) The NHL didn't sell off its international rights. This means they can sell these rights and make more money.

(7) After finalizing the deal, Gary Bettman said, “When we looked at the entire package and the relationship to us, it was clear that we were going to be with the incumbent. It’s nice to feel pretty.” (If the NHL is pretty, the NFL is drop dead gorgeous).

(8) Caps owner Ted Leonis on not feeling so pretty in 2005: “I remember at the time an ESPN executive being very dismissive of us. We were down as a league. And we were down as owners.”

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