THN: FOX Could Be Interested in Paying for NHL Rights


The NHL On FOX Lasted From 1995-99

The NHL On FOX Lasted From 1995-99

Right up front, here’s the scoop from Ken Campbell at The Hockey News:

 The free lunch for NBC is over. That’s the message the NHL will give to the network when it begins negotiating a new national television contract to replace the one that expires after this season.

Since the lockout, the league has had a deal with NBC that essentially gave the network its NHL property for free. In a deal similar to the one that the Arena Football League had, NBC doesn’t pay the NHL any money, but guarantees that it will cover production costs. Any money made by the broadcasts first goes to covering those costs and if any profits are left over after that, 80 percent go to the league and 20 percent go to NBC.

But that arrangement for NBC is about to end, according to those who are familiar with the league’s television contract. With paying customers in the form of TSN and CBC in Canada and Versus in the United States, the league feels it has the leverage to begin charging a national broadcaster for its product.

Well golly, NHL, way to show some spunk.  The NHL will likely ask for $10-20 Million a year for it’s TV rights.  While most people believe NBC wants to keep the NHL at least for the Winter Olympics, Campbell sees another former hockey TV partner lining up for a potential reconciliation:

It’s doubtful that CBS or NBC would be interested in the product, but there are indications that Fox might want the NHL back. Obviously the league would need more than one network bidding for its product in order to have any leverage and as long as Fox doesn’t want to reintroduce its glowing puck, the league would welcome its interest in the game.

We don’t know where Campbell’s sources are coming from, but it’s sort of an unspoken agreement that the NHL and FOX are not interested in negotiating with one another.  But we’re pretty sure it’s more a FOX hatred thing after the NHL and ABC kinda’ screwed them out of the 2000-2004 contract.  Could FOX see a value in producing hockey games?

A date to remember in all of this is April 23rd.  That’s the day NBC and the league announced it’s most recent extension of what Campbell calls NBC’s “free lunch”.  Expect an announcement to come sooner rather than later if NBC is to keep the league – to flatten speculation – but if we go any further than that date right there, it’s cue to believe something is up.

Well, the network’s schedule is very crowded, but there is room for hockey in a Saturday timeslot that could flex itself around baseball and NASCAR once April comes around, with the Winter Classic and the Stanley Cup Finals likely the centerpiece of that package.  FOX would likely be able to make the deal work financially with those two events, plus getting mostly FSN people to work on the games.  While we don’t wanna be third or fourth fiddle at any network, it’s huge – and I mean huge – for the NHL to be perceived as a wanted TV product.

9 Responses to THN: FOX Could Be Interested in Paying for NHL Rights

  1. Tapeleg says:

    Could Fox do Saturdays? Does the CBC have an exclusive lock on that day for HNIC?

  2. dyhrdmet says:

    CBC probably has the lock in Canada and for Canadian teams. Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon, it doesn’t matter. FOX or NBC couldn’t get a Senators-Maple Leafs matchup.

    FOX could theoretically use the same announce teams (sans J.D. and J.B.) it had a decade ago. A rotation of Doc Emrick, with Sam Rosen, Kenny Albert (box FOX employees), and throw in Dave Strader for good measure sounds good too me.

  3. Wayne says:

    A Saturday afternoon timeslot is DEATH! FOX should try Friday or Saturday night games; after all, what does FOX have on Saturday nights other than crime-reality shows? And I dare anyone to name FOX’s Friday-night lineup…

  4. dyhrdmet says:

    This isn’t Canada. A Saturday night timeslot would get low ratings (they always fear that for various playoff games – except the NFL). And the NHL Network would have a fit if it lost HNIC because of FOX. Friday night is interesting. Maybe create a reality show about the NHL to generate interest. As much as it’s a consideration that could hurt things, there is the west coast time frame to have to consider when you have a primetime game, unless it’s regional coverage, and then logistics of these teams agreeing to a later start time to play at 8pm local time (ET or PT), etc.

    FOX would have to squeeze it in during the daytime around NFL Playoffs, NASCAR, and early season MLB since late afternoon Sunday wouldn’t work because of their animated primetime lineup.

    which reminds me, the glowing puck thing could probably be done a lot better with the technology now than 10 years ago.

  5. John says:

    I dunno about in other areas, but Fox does not have evening news here in Pittsburgh. So, I think that FOX can have a sunday evening without a problem. King of the Hill has been cancelled, the Simpsons are a$$, and The Family Guy and American Dad can fit in either before or after an 8 o’clock broadcast. I know it’d have to compete with Sunday Night Football on NBC and prolly loose in the fall but who cares. The US is a country of 300 million and versus is already airing games opposite MNF, anyway. there is enough room for the sport on tv.

  6. Kyle The Sports Fanatic says:

    I think that a prime-time game would be worth experimenting with, the Fox Saturday line-up is weak anyway. If NBC could pull it off with football, why can’t Fox do it with Hockey. But they’ll probably do it Saturday afternoon, starting after the NFC Championship, since as far as I know nothing is going on saturday til April. Then in April and May try to work it around MLB, maybe NHL game at 1pm followed by MLB at 4pm. Just a thought.

  7. Russell says:

    I hope FOX does get the rights back because NBC’s coverage is horrible.It’s the same 3 or 4 teams every week and outside of the RedWings it’s like the Western Conferenc doesn’t exist to them.

  8. Kyle The Sports Fanatic says:

    Another thing they could do they’ll likely do games on Saturday, if that’s the case, then why not start coverage in December (since College Football Season will be over, fox did not had coverage of that anyway) since Fox has nothing going for them on Saturdays til baseball season. Now one of the problems will be divisional Saturday in the NFL, no problem that doesn’t start til 4 (at the earliest) so just do a 1 o’clock game. Then comes the big challenge, Playoff time. They’ll have to find a way to work around MLB schedule, well usually Fox’s MLB coverage starts at 4 so 1’o clock games aren’t out of the equation.

  9. TK says:

    Primetime regular season sports on broadcast can be limited to 1 sport only…Football. Major sporting events are moving to all cable deals (British Open & the BCS). The NHL will never be on national broadcast in primetime ever. Neither will MLB or the NBA.

    If FOX does get back in, they should do the Winter Classic at 3 PM EST on New Years Day. They cover the Cotton Bowl at 11 am, thus making it a doubleheader, and creates a strong lead-in. The following Saturday through the end of March, at least 4 regional games should air at 3:00 ET. I feel, any game not on HNIC on saturdays should be scheduled for this window, and shown regionally, like early sunday NFL games. The final 2 or 3 weeks when Hockey overlaps with Baseball, do what I call a Bookend Doubleheader (like College Football): East coast gets a hockey game at 1 ET, all of USA gets Baseball at 4:00ET/1:00 PT and West coast gets Hockey ater baseball at 4:15 PT (7:15 ET).

    PLAYOFFS: Every Saturday before baseball 1:00 ET. Sunday NHL playoff Doubleheaders (12 & 3 ET and 12 & 3 PT) only during May (Nascar is on Saturday nights in May).

    Games 1, 4-7 of Finals. Heavy cross promotion between FOX and VERSUS should be a dealpoint in the contract.

    Fox has a strong lineup of major sports properties that would allow for cross-promotion and great multi-sport doubleheaders.

    Cotton Bowl followed By Winter Classic
    NHL followed by Bud Shootout (Daytona)
    NHL followed by Baseball (East Coast)
    Baseball followed by NHL (West Coast)
    Conference Final followed by Coke 600 (Memorial Day Weekend)

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