The Suitor Tutor: A Five-Part Guide to the NHL’s TV Future

A year from now, the National Hockey League will be locked into a long-term relationship with a well-known, worldwide media conglomerate, that will likely provide it with both a cable and broadcast platform to air literally dozens (We kid the NHL, but it should be over 100 in today’s saturated media world) of hockey games per season, including the coveted Winter Classic and Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This media conglomerate will air NHL games across multiple networks, and likely add in broadband, internet streaming of NHL games for free.  While Comcast and Yahoo! put the NHL at the forefront of streaming live sporting events coming out of the lockout, the material has since diminished and networks like have lapped the league and the rest of the field.  Turner Sports dedicates web channels to special, exclusive, desirable content that the NHL just hasn’t matched yet.  The potential of hockey’s growth on the web will play a big part in any rights deal.

Why do I keep mentioning the word conglomerate?  Because, besides the possibility of a split rights deal on cable, the NHL will be joining forces with a media company.  NBC/VERSUS, ESPN/ABC, CBS/Turner, Fox/Fox Sports, these are all groups of networks that are (or will soon be) under the same corporate umbrella.  There is no more mixing and matching.  You’ll likely never see a deal like the NBA’s with Turner and NBC, or the NHL’s with Fox and ESPN in the 90’s again.  Everybody wants as much of the pie as they can get.

So, starting tomorrow, and every day here at Puck the Media at 10:00 am, we’ll premiere ‘The Suitor Tutor’, your guide to the NHL’s potential partners in television crime over the next half-decade.  Here’s the schedule:

Wednesday – Part 1: VERSUS and NBC: How Have They Done, and Where the Merger Will Take Them
Thursday – Part 2:
The ESPN Question
Friday – Part 3: The Rest of the Bunch – FOX, CBS, Turner
Monday – Part 4: Where the NHL Network Factors in This
Tuesday – Part 5: Our Recommendation: Where the NHL Should Spend it’s TV Future

I hope you’ll join me, as I promise you’ll learn something.

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