Live Updates on the NHL, NBC Call

Any immediate information will be updated in this post.

UPDATE: VERSUS will be re-named within 90 days, according to Dick Ebersol.

Every playoff game from the Conference Semi-finals on will be on NBC and VERSUS.

Every playoff game period will be on either NBC, VERSUS or another NBC/Comcast channel, so every playoff game will air nationally.

VERSUS will air 90 exclusive games next year. They aired 77 total last year, but 25 were bonus games. This will be 90 games airing exclusively in home markets.

The deal is through the 2020-21 season.

The call is over, we’ll have more later.

Here’s the NHL’s press release:

NEW YORK (April 19, 2011) – The National Hockey League and the NBC Sports Group have reached agreement on a landmark 10-year television and media rights deal, taking the partnership through the 2020-21 season. The expanded partnership, under which NBC remains the exclusive network home and VERSUS the exclusive cable home of the NHL® in the U.S., is highlighted by the first-ever national distribution of all Stanley Cup® Playoffs contests, including, for the first time, exclusive coverage starting with the Conference Semifinals. The agreement also calls for the NBC Sports Group to televise 100 regular season games per year and introduces a national NBC broadcast on Thanksgiving Friday. The announcement was made today by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Sports Group.

According to the agreement, the NBC Sports Group obtains digital rights across all platforms and devices for the games it televises. In the regular season, NBC will continue to broadcast a national “Game of the Week,” along with its coverage of the NHL Winter Classic® and “Hockey Day in America.” VERSUS also will telecast an exclusive national “Game of the Week,” as well as NHL Premiere™ Games, NHL Faceoff™, the NHL All-Star Game and any future NHL Heritage Classic™ outdoor games in Canada. NBC and VERSUS remain the exclusive home of the Stanley Cup Final. The NBC Sports Group’s commitment includes building a new studio for NHL Network™ at its existing facility Stamford, Conn.

“This is the most significant U.S. media rights partnership in the League’s history,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “NBC Universal / Comcast is one of the most important, connected and ‘wired’ media companies in the U.S., and as the potential of the NBC Sports Group is realized, the importance of our relationship will become more apparent to hockey fans and our business partners.

“NBC Sports and Comcast have been fantastic partners. They have provided incredible coverage of our sport and have teamed with us to deliver the best TV viewership figures in three decades. It is a credit to our players, our great game and our outstanding fans that Brian Roberts, Steve Burke, Dick Ebersol and their teams would make a commitment of this scale. We also know the best is yet to come.”

“We have significantly increased the value of the NBC Sports Group with this unprecedented, 10-year agreement with the National Hockey League,” said Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Sports Group. “What’s particularly exciting for us is not only the significant increase in regular season games, but the reality of a dream that every single playoff game will air on an NBC Sports Group platform. For the first time, the Conference Semifinal round will be exclusive on VERSUS with a 200 percent increase in games. In the regular season, we’re increasing VERSUS’ coverage from roughly 50 to 90 games.

“I cannot understate the importance of Gary Bettman’s leadership. He understands the scope and the promotional ability of not only our new NBC Sports Group, but of the new NBCUniversal under Comcast’s ownership. The NHL has been and will continue to be one of our cornerstone properties.”

The NHL’s partnerships with both NBC Sports and VERSUS launched for the 2005-06 season and the six-year relationship has produced many ratings milestones. Among them:

· Overall NHL television ratings in the United States have increased by 84 percent over the last four years

· The 2011 NHL Winter Classic on NBC was the most-watched regular season game in the U.S. in 36 years

· VERSUS’ 2011 regular season viewership was the network’s best ever, up 17 percent over last season

· The 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs saw the largest audience in the history of the sport, with Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on NBC the most-watched NHL game in the U.S. in 36 years

· The 2010 Playoffs on VERSUS were the most watched on U.S. cable in eight years, while the first two rounds were the most watched on cable on record.

· Just last week, VERSUS achieved its best opening night viewership in its six years of Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage

The agreement between the NHL and the NBC Sports Group includes targeted promotion across the combined Comcast/NBCUniversal company which, since the merger, consists of 20 television networks and more than 40 digital platforms. VERSUS, which was in 64 million homes in 2005, is now in more than 79 million homes and is on course for further expansion of its distribution. The combined promotional muscle has already led to increased ratings for events such as the NHL Winter Classic, NHL Heritage Classic and Hockey Day in America.

Over the last five years, the NHL has grown TV ratings, substantially increased sponsorship and advertising revenue through partnerships with blue chip companies, built a robust digital business and created a year-round calendar of big events including the NHL Winter Classic, all while receiving numerous industry awards and media accolades. The League for the 2010-11 season is on pace to once again set a record for total revenue despite the challenging economy, surpassing $2.9 billion overall.

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Steve Lepore is the Managing Editor of Puck the Media. His work has been featured in The Hockey News. Feel free to contact him at stevemlepore@gmail.com

16 Responses to Live Updates on the NHL, NBC Call

  1. Caps Nut says:

    Well, this deal pretty much precludes NBC from getting the NBA back. The NHL has a good shot with a Black Friday game provided that NBC uses their preceeding Sunday Night NFL Telecast to promote it.

  2. leafsfan1967 says:

    So how does this deal fix the playoff distribution issue. Unless the NHL changes the way they schedule things Versus is only one channel and can only show one game at a time. As for using the Comcast channels that may help some, assuming that Comcast allows the distribution of their signal across platforms which isn’t the case now. Just talk to people in Philadelphia who can’t see Flyers games unless they have Fios or Comcr@p….

  3. leafsfan1967 says:

    >>Every playoff game period will be on either NBC, VERSUS or another NBC/Comcast channel, so every >>playoff game will air nationally.

    So does this mean if the Flames play the Canucks in the first round of the playoffs next year or the Habs play the Sens that those games will air nationally in the USA? I can’t see that happening…..

    • Arthur says:

      What don’t you see? NBC/Comcast has other networks to put the games on. NBC Universal, Versus, CNBC, MSNBC, USA, Bravo hell you might even see one or two on the Golf Channel.
      They are shelling out $2billion over the next ten years. They have the outlets to put them on.

      • leafsfan1967 says:

        Possibly….. But can you honestly see NBC/Comcr*p caring about nationally televised playoff games featuring Canadian teams?

      • Chief says:

        it’s in the contract!!! Like the olympics they’ll put crappy US draws on the non-Versus channels.

      • Caps Nut says:

        Well I would think that the order of preference would be Golf Channel (it is already a sports network) CNBC (great for late night West Coast games with a Canadian team playing), and then SyFy. No way does NBC/Universal bump programming off of USA, MSDNC, or Bravo.

        I’m also curious to see if NHL Network will get any games with NBC building a studio for them.

  4. OK, so what about GameCenter Live?

    • leafsfan1967 says:

      …And what about Center Ice? Does it just drop out of the picture once the playoffs start?

      • Chief says:

        I would assume Center ice is null and void when the playoffs start.

      • Martin says:

        If the games are being nationally televised, then Center Ice won’t be required. As to GCL, the deal includes digital rights which gives NBC Sports the rights to stream games as they currently do with their Saturday/Sunday afternoon games.

      • nosferatu says:

        It’s going to be interesting to see if they end up streaming all the playoff games they’re airing–even on Versus (or whatever it’ll be called come next spring)–in their entirety, maybe as a nice, legal outlet to cover games preempted by other overtime games.

  5. leafsfan1967 says:

    I suspect Center Ice will survive but if it’s just the regular season they should reduce the price a bit.

    I know, i know…. not happening! :-)

  6. Kevin says:

    I think that this a good deal. Although I would say that NBC/Versus needs to promote more teams and more stars there are so many great teams and players that are you never hear of if you are regular fan. I love the idea of every playoff game on national TV and that every game after the first round will be exclusive. I think it is a good deal. I grade it a B, but I am holding a final grade until the end of next season.

  7. Colton says:

    This is an awesome deal. People have complained about not being able to watch all playoff games and not having enough games on tv during the regular season. Well you have your wish now. Should be alot more primetime hockey on tv in the US over the next decade, which is great.

    I think this is the stability that the US needs with hockey. In Canada, we have had stability for decades. It’s a great thing.

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