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NHL TV Deal Settled


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Despite a labor situation that is so murky that a lockout could be looming, the NHL has reached a revenue-sharing deal that will put regular-season games on NBC for the first time in nearly three decades, and reached an agreement to extend its post-season coverage deal with ESPN.

 

The deal, announced Wednesday, will call for NBC to broadcast seven regular-season games beginning in January and six playoff games in regular Saturday afternoon time slots. The network also will televise Games 3 through 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in prime time.

 

The two-year agreement may be renewed for an additional two years at NBC's option. The deal is subject to approval by the league's board.

 

That setup echoes the current arrangement with ABC, which showed regional telecasts on five regular-season Saturdays and has aired several playoff games. The first two games of this year's Stanley Cup finals will air on ESPN, then ABC will broadcast the remaining games.

 

The NHL's current agreement with ABC Sports and ESPN -- both owned by Disney -- was to expire after this season. That deal had the networks paying $600 million over five years for TV rights, according to Bloomberg.

 

The NHL reached an extension on its cable broadcast deal with ESPN on Wednesday, highlighted by ESPN's exclusive coverage of the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals and the All-Star Game.

 

The deal, which covers the 2004-05 season with options for the 2005-06 and '06-07 seasons, continues ESPN and ESPN2's exclusive postseason coverage of the conference finals and adds exclusivity for two games from each conference semifinal series.

 

"ESPN has been, is now and will continue to be the definitive cable sports viewing destination, and our partnership with ESPN has been an extremely productive one," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "We are very pleased that the partnership will continue to be one of growth and we greatly appreciate all of ESPN's efforts and support on our behalf."

 

For NBC, which last broadcasted NHL regular-season games 29 years ago, the deal represents a move back into televising major professional team sports. In recent years, the network has focused on events like the Olympics, Triple Crown horse racing and Notre Dame football while competitors locked up deals with the NFL, NHL, NBA and Major League Baseball.

 

"We're acquiring a major, established sport that is rich in tradition," said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports, "and we're doing it in a way which fits our strong historical commitment to financially sound deals which offer significant upside for both jparties."

 

"We think that this structure makes enormous sense for both sides of the deal," said Ken Schanzer, president of NBC Sports.

 

Still, the network is not a neophyte when it comes to hockey. The NHL's first broadcast deal, to air Stanley Cup playoff games, was with NBC in 1966.

 

The last NHL game on NBC was the 1994 All-Star Game, according to Bloomberg, which added that the network hasn't shown any of the four major professional team sports since its contract with the NBA expired in June 2002.

 

"This is the right deal at the right time with the right parties," Bettman said.

 

"It's a big win for NBC, which puts the network back on the map as far as the major sports," Sean Badding, a media analyst with market researcher Carmel Group in Monterey, Calif., told Bloomberg on Tuesday. "The NHL isn't the top ticket, but it's up there after football, baseball and basketball."

 

The deal gives NBC its first major sports league presence since allowing its deals to expire with the NFL (1998), Major League Baseball (2000) and NBA (2002) over the past six years.

 

Ebersol has said over and over again that, unlike a cable station that has both subscriber fees and advertising, his network's one revenue stream (advertising) makes it harder to compete for major sports in an era of skyrocketing rights fees.

 

"I believe both sides will do very well, not only in viewing levels, but in profits that both sides will take out of this deal," he said.

 

Under the extension of the league's cable deal, ESPN2 will televise 40 fully exclusive regular-season games on a consistent Sunday-and-Wednesday schedule.

 

"For many years, the NHL has been an important programming element for ESPN and we are thrilled to continue the relationship," George Bodenheimer, President ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports, said in a statement. "The increased exclusivity and addition of the All-Star Game will enhance the already outstanding coverage we provide for our fans and the value we deliver to our affiliates and advertisers."

 

Earlier Tuesday, NBC announced a two-year extension of its contract with the Arena Football League. That deal is structured somewhat like its NHL deal. In particular, as with the AFL deal, the NHL will not get the upfront fees common to most broadcast agreements but rather will share in any revenue, The New York Times reported.

 

Bloomberg pointed out that completing contracts with television partners may be an important strategic goal for the league, whose collective bargaining agreement with its Players Association expires Sept. 15. During the 1998-99 NBA season, which was shortened by a players lockout, NBC made payments to the league even though games were canceled. The NBA returned the money when the labor dispute was settled.

ESPN.com

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why did they sign this deal? pro bowling and rodeo werent available?

 

seriously NHL ratings are in the crapper

So are the NBA's.

 

They signed the deal because the .7 ratings the NHL will pull in for ESPN would top anything else they could throw on on those nights.

 

That and the NHL does some real high regional ratings.

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I like this deal for both sides.

 

It gives NBC financial security, it gives the fans exclusive games on ESPN2, network television is secured, and the NHL is not locked into a price so if the ratings were to take off, once NBC has paid off the productions costs, NBC and the NHL spilt the profits 50/50.

 

This is the best possible deal. Baseball made a similar deal with ABC and NBC in 1994 and ended the 1995 season with a big contract with NBC, FOX, ESPN and Fox/Liberty Cable for the 1996 season.

 

As much as the Baseball Network was criticized, it increased ratings, profits, and the amount for the next TV deal for MLB. The strike didn't seem as bad to the owners because of this deal.

 

In fact, it could make a comeback because the owners liked it, but had to leave it in 1996 because of how badly it was executed by ABC and NBC. It would be different in the future because there would be no regionalization of playoff games and would allow MLB to reap profits.

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3 tips to NBC on covering the NHL.

 

1) Keep Merv Albert away, along with Kenny. Bring back Davidson and share Pang and Thorne with ESPN.

2) bring in ESPN's studio crew for intermissions minus Melrose.

3) Do the games in HDTV, keep a nice neat graphics box and lower thirds, and spread the regional games around correctly.

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2) bring in ESPN's studio crew for intermissions minus Melrose.

WHAT!?

 

Are you KIDDING me!?

 

Melrose is awesome. He's the best analyst they have, he's the best NHL analyst there is, period.

 

And, in case anyone wants to go Canadian on me and say Don Cherry, I've seen him...he sucks.

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It also improves the stations carrying the teams in the metro NHL markets in the US.

Team NBC ABC

Anaheim KNBC-4 KABC-7

Atlanta WXIA-11 WSB-2

Boston WHDH-7 WCVB-5

Buffalo WGRZ-2 WKBW-7

Carolina WNCN-17 WTVD-11

Chicago WMAQ-5 WLS-7

Colorado KUSA-9 KMGH-7

Columbus WCMH-4 WSYX-6

Dallas KXAS-5 WFAA-8

Detroit WDIV-4 WXYZ-7

Florida WTVJ-6 WPLG-10

Los Angeles KNBC-4 KABC-7

Minnesota KARE-11 KSTP-5

Montreal (CBC in Canada, Plattsburg, NY nearby) WPTZ-5/WNNE-31 WVNY-22

Nashville WSMV-4 WKRN-2

New Jersey WNBC-4/WCAU-10 WABC-7/WPVI-6

NY Islanders WNBC-4 WABC-7

NY Rangers WNBC-4 WABC-7

Philadelphia WCAU-10 WPVI-6

Phoenix KPNX-12 KNXV-15

Pittsburgh WPXI-11 WTAE-4

San Jose KNTV-11 KGO-7

St. Louis KSDK-5 KDNL-30

Tampa Bay WFLA-8 WFTS-28/WWSB-40 (Tampa has 2 weak ABC affiliates)

Toronto (CBC in Canada, Buffalo nearby) WGRZ-2 WKBW-7

Vancouver (CBC in Canada, Seattle nearby) KING-5 KOMO-4

Washington WRC-4 WJLA-7

 

As you can tell, NBC has better affiliates in these major NHL markets compared to the #4 ABC.

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2) bring in ESPN's studio crew for intermissions minus Melrose.

WHAT!?

 

Are you KIDDING me!?

 

Melrose is awesome. He's the best analyst they have, he's the best NHL analyst there is, period.

 

And, in case anyone wants to go Canadian on me and say Don Cherry, I've seen him...he sucks. Melrose has been the biggest opponent to hockey in Florida, namely Tampa Bay, and is so against hockey being in the south that he sticks his foot in his mouth more than not.

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this deal makes sense.

 

 

 

the nhl is a league that few care about right now.

 

 

nbc has no major sports.

 

 

 

this is an opportunity for both sides to succeed.....i would like to see nbc air more games on tv....especially on say saturday afternoon's or what have and sunday afternoons after the first of the year....

 

 

but you get what you get.

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this deal makes sense.

 

 

 

the nhl is a league that few care about right now.

 

 

nbc has no major sports.

 

 

 

this is an opportunity for both sides to succeed.....i would like to see nbc air more games on tv....especially on say saturday afternoon's or what have and sunday afternoons after the first of the year....

 

 

but you get what you get.

the nhl wants to eventually aim for a game of the week arrangement on Saturday afternoons on NBC, but NBC said 7 regional gamedays.

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NHL on FOX was pretty good. The theme song was good today.

yes, I thought it was the top of the NHL on TV. They hope to better the NHL on Fox with NBC. NBC has better stations, more interest in the NHL doing well and better promotion abilities. NBC does the Olympic Hockey events excellently and gets huge ratings esp. in 2002 in Salt Lake when most of the games were on CNBC or MSNBC.

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NHL on FOX was pretty good. The theme song was good too.

Ugh. Nothing sports-related has been good on Fox. I can just hear the graphics now. WHOOOSH.

 

And who is that in the Blue Jackets' stands? Why it's Frankie Muniz, star of Fox's hit sitcom, Malcolm in the Middle. Sundays at 9 Eastern, on FOX!

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