NBC to Decide on NHL Within Next Few Weeks

From Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun:

 But the success (or failure) of hockey on NBC over the next few weeks could lead to a breakthrough for the National Hockey League, which could use a boost in revenue.

The U.S. network is in the final year of its two-year deal with the NHL and actually is riding some momentum.

The Winter Classic between Detroit and Chicago on New Year’s Day drew an audience of 4.4. million Americans, the most-viewed NHL regular-season game in 34 years.

If the league can build on that, could it possibly command a deal with any of the big four networks that brings in significant revenue?

The NHL’s senior vice-president for broadcasting, John Shannon, told Sun Media this week that talks won’t heat up on renewing the deal until after the Super Bowl hangover subsides. That also will give both NHL and NBC executives a chance to see how the next few weeks draw, beginning with Saturday’s Stanley Cup final rematch between Pittsburgh and Detroit.

NBC certainly has room in its schedule in the dead zone on the calendar for sports programming. While CBS loads up on college basketball, ABC has the NBA and Fox gets fat on NASCAR, NBC has little right now.

Sources say the NHL currently makes roughly $10 million US per season in its revenue-sharing arrangement with the network. That’s a 10th of the take from Canadian networks, a gap the league would like to see narrow.

Very interesting.  Basically, this means two things:

  1. Our post later today that implores NBC to pick Sharks-Devils as the February 15th flex game will likely fall on deaf ears.
  2. Hockey fans need to get out the view this Sunday and for the next few Sundays.

Look, as we’ve said a number of times, the NHL isn’t making more than $10-20 million a year on a broadcast deal.  It simply isn’t happening, unless it factors in some type of cable/broadcast package, a la ABC/ESPN.  But if hockey fans will turn their TV’s to NBC the next few weekends, there’s a chance hockey might be able to stave off deportation to cable for a few more years.

3 Responses to NBC to Decide on NHL Within Next Few Weeks

  1. John says:

    i think nbc should just go crazy and put a game on in primetime on network tv, just to see what happens

  2. puckdrawn says:

    With the popularity of ultimate fighting, the NHL should go back to the goon days to drum up fan interest. I’m all for the goons considering hitting is pretty much a lost art.

  3. kevin says:

    The NHL shouldn’t get carried away with their Winter Classic hype. Another Ottawa/Anaheim like Finals matchup would doom all the ratings bump they’ve experienced. With the current state of the economy they should just renew the same deal for another year. I can’t imagine NBC would turn it down seeing as they get the NHL for free. With the AFL and WNBA folding they really don’t have anything else to put on TV except another bull riding event…..and you can only sell so much chewing tobacco

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