NHL May Hit $200M Jackpot For Rights Fees
April 12, 2011 14 Comments
Thanks to John Ourand from SBJ for offering up this story to us without the paywall. Here’s some of the key info:
The NHL is expecting to entertain offers from ESPN, NBC/Versus and a surprisingly strong push from Turner. Fox, which had early talks with the NHL, is not believed to be in the running to pick up the rights.
It’s difficult to declare a front-runner, sources said. But NBC and Versus hold a significant advantage over the other bidders. Their current contracts give them the right to match other offers the NHL gets, from either ESPN or Turner.
NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins has been leading the negotiations for the league.
Versus and NBC’s exclusive negotiating windows ended earlier this year, allowing the NHL to engage other networks for both the cable and broadcast packages.
The most intriguing potential bid comes from Turner, which is looking to add sports to its truTV lineup. TruTV was a big part of Turner’s NCAA tournament coverage, and Turner executives were happy with the channel’s performance. TruTV is in 93 million homes.
Sources close to the discussions said Turner is more interested in bidding for the NFL when that league’s rights come up in 2013. While it’s interested in the NHL, it’s not willing to break the bank on it.
ESPN has talked with the NHL about placing the league’s entire television package – broadcast and cable – on ESPN2. But an ESPN source also said that ABC remains a viable option, particularly for the Stanley Cup Final.