Winter Classic Draws Interesting Attendees

Tripp Mickle and Terry Lefton of SBJ have this great article on the success of the Winter Classic, and you absolutely should read it, but here’s the part we’d like to focus on:

Currently, NBC broadcasts the Winter Classic as part of a revenue-sharing agreement with the NHL. But that deal ends in 2011 and the league should be able to use the event’s success to attract new bidders to a rights package built around the Classic. Some have already shown an interest, including CBS President Sean McManus and Sean Bratches, ESPN Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, who both attended the Winter Classic at Fenway.

“It’s the most TV execs from different outlets we’ve had at any game since I’ve been at the league,” Collins said.

Determining in what television rights package to include the Winter Classic next year will be very important to how much television revenue the NHL generates, sports media consultant Mike Trager said. “Their choice has got to be: Do we want it in a revenue-share package with two or three times the exposure, or do we want it in the cable package to see if we can extract some extra dollars?” he said.

Well, ESPN wants everything, and CBS is likely preparing for life without an as extensive NCAA Hoops rights package, so both make some sense for the type of package the NHL would want.  It’ll be interesting to see.

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