NHL Could Start Bidding War in Next Rights Deal

By Tripp Mickle and John Ourand of Sports Business Journal (sub. req.):

Early signs suggest that a bidding war is developing. The league is

expected to enter an exclusive negotiating period with Versus later

this year, and Versus has made no secret of its desire to renew with

the NHL, which consistently brings the highest ratings to the

Comcast-owned sports channel. NBC also has said that it would like to

keep its rights package.

But others are lurking. ESPN said it wants to be involved. And sources

said Fox Sports is considering whether to bid on a package.

The ACC’s most recent media deal showed how multiple bidders can drive

up rights fees. Sources said that ESPN increased its bid by $35

million per year once Fox Sports showed interest in the conference’s

rights earlier this spring.

NHL executives have worked quietly behind the scenes to fuel that kind

of interest. During the Vancouver Olympics in February, for example,

NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins was spotted at a high-top

table before the first U.S.-Canada hockey game chatting with ESPN

President George Bodenheimer. Four months later, Collins took in Game

6 of the Stanley Cup Final with NBC Sports & Olympics Chairman Dick

Ebersol. He’s had informal contact with top executives at almost every

TV network.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and

Collins will lead negotiations, which are set to formally begin when

Versus exercises an option to open an exclusive negotiation window.

From there, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen.

Advertisements

NHL Net US to Air 78 Games This Season

NEW YORK (October 4, 2010) – NHL Network U.S. will televise 78 live games this season, all in HD, with live game action from every NHL Club spread over multiple days a week throughout the regular season. Three “flex” games in addition to the 75 listed below will guarantee viewers get the key matchups with playoff implications. Local blackouts will apply to all live games and game replays.

NHL Network™ U.S. drops the puck on the live 2010-11 NHL® regular-season schedule Saturday, Oct. 9, with a double-header of live games. First up is San Jose Sharks against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Stockholm, Sweden as part of the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere. That same night, captain Jonathan Toews and the Stanley Cup® Champion Chicago Blackhawks will raise a new banner to the United Center’s rafters before their first home game for the season against the Detroit Red Wings. Other highlights from the NHL Network U.S. broadcast schedule include the last meeting between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals before they go head-to-head in the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® on New Year’s Day at Heinz Field.

Beginning on Saturday, Oct. 23 and for the third year in a row, NHL Network U.S. will feature acclaimed programming from CBC’s “Hockey Night In Canada” every Saturday starting at 6:30 p.m., ET. Fans in the U.S. will continue to see the 30-minute pre-game show “Hockey Tonight,” followed by an early game from the “HNIC” doubleheader including popular segments “Coach’s Corner” with Don Cherry and Ron MacLean and “The Hotstove.” Post-game of the first match-up will broadcast on the Network in the U.S. until 10 p.m. The late “HNIC” game along with “After Hours,” will be telecast on NHL Network U.S. Sunday afternoons, on tape-delay. The “HNIC” games not televised live on NHL Network U.S. will be available on TV on NHL® Center Ice® and NHL GameCenter LIVE,™ the NHL’s digital subscription programming package.

NHL Network’s flagship show, “NHL On The Fly” will return nightly throughout the season starting on Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. ET with an Eastern Conference Preview Show. The Western Conference Preview Show will air the following night, Oct. 5, and on Oct. 6, “NHL On The Fly” will take an in-depth look at the 2010 Compuware Premiere games taking place around Europe. On Oct. 7, the “NHL On The Fly” crew will broadcast live from the 2010 NHL Face-Off™ in Dundas Square, Toronto from 4 – 7 p.m., followed immediately by a regular full-length program beginning an hour earlier than usual. “NHL On The Fly” features up-to-the minute hockey information, live look-ins, extended highlights, overtimes and shootouts, real-time scores, interviews, pre- and post-game reports and news conferences. The nightly highlight show is hosted by David Amber and Brian Duff, with expert analysis from a variety of NHL notables including Kevin Weekes, Gary Green, Craig Button, Mike Johnson, Brad May, Bobby Holik and more.

Highlights of the NHL Network U.S. schedule this season include:

• Saturday, Oct. 9 – First up, the Columbus Blue Jackets take on the San Jose Sharks at Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden as part of the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere. Later that night, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks will raise a new banner to the United Center rafters before going up against Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and the Detroit Red Wings.

• Sunday, Oct. 10 – The Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes will open their seasons in Prague as part of the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere. This will be second of two back-to-back matches between the Bruins and Coyotes in Prague, Czech Republic at O2 Arena.

• Thursday, Oct. 14 –Dallas’ home opener against the Detroit Red Wings featuring former face of the Stars, Mike Modano – who will wear the famed winged wheel for the first time in his old stomping grounds.

• Monday, Nov. 1 – A clash of two Original Six teams with the New York Rangers hosting the Chicago Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden.

• Wednesday, Nov. 24 – It’s a rematch of the 2010 Western Conference Final, with San Jose hosting the Chicago Blackhawks.

• Thursday, Dec. 2 – Dany Heatley makes his return to Ottawa as a member of the San Jose Sharks.

• Thursday, Dec. 23 – Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins travel to Washington to face Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals in a preview of the 2011 Bridgestone / NHL Winter Classic® on New Year’s Day at Heinz Field.

• Friday, Feb. 18 – Rod Brind’Amour will have his number retired in Carolina as the Hurricanes host the 2010 Eastern Conference Champion Philadelphia Flyers.

NHL Network U.S. 2010-11 Live Game Broadcast Schedule

October

Saturday, Oct. 9 Columbus vs. San Jose 3 p.m. ET

Saturday, Oct. 9 Detroit @ Chicago 8:30 p.m. ET

Sunday, Oct. 10 Boston vs. Phoenix 10 a.m. ET

Thursday, Oct. 14 Detroit @ Dallas 8:30 p.m. ET

Saturday, Oct. 16 Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia 7 p.m. ET

Thursday, Oct. 21 Washington @ Boston 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, Oct. 23 Toronto @ Philadelphia 7 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Oct. 27 New Jersey @ San Jose 10:30 p.m. ET

Thursday, Oct. 28 Washington @ Minnesota 8:00 p.m. ET

Friday, Oct. 29 Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, Oct. 30 NY Rangers @ Toronto 7 p.m. ET

November

Monday, Nov. 1 Chicago @ NY Rangers 7 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Nov. 3 Toronto @ Washington 7 p.m. ET

Friday, Nov. 5 Boston @ Washington 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, Nov. 6 Buffalo @ Toronto 7 p.m. ET

Sunday, Nov. 7 Philadelphia @ Washington5 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Nov. 10 Boston @ Pittsburgh 7 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Nov. 10 NY Islanders @ Anaheim 10 p.m. ET

Thursday, Nov. 11 Tampa Bay @ Washington 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, Nov. 13 Vancouver @ Toronto 7 p.m. ET

Sunday, Nov. 14 Anaheim @ Chicago 7 p.m. ET

Thursday, Nov. 18 Tampa Bay @Philadelphia 7 p.m. ET

Friday, Nov. 19 Washington @ Atlanta 7:30 p.m. ET

Saturday, Nov. 20 Toronto @ Montreal 7 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Nov. 24 Chicago @ San Jose 10:30 p.m. ET

Thursday, Nov. 25 Colorado @ Edmonton 9 p.m. ET

Saturday, Nov. 27 Buffalo @ Montreal 7 p.m. ET

Tuesday, Nov. 30 Detroit @ San Jose 10:30 p.m. ET

December

Wednesday, Dec. 1 Washington @ St. Louis 8 p.m. ET

Thursday, Dec. 2 San Jose @ Ottawa 7:30 p.m. ET

Friday, Dec. 3 Vancouver @ Chicago 8:30 p.m. ET

Saturday, Dec. 4 Boston @ Toronto 7 p.m. ET

Sunday, Dec. 5 Calgary @ Chicago 7 p.m. ET

Friday, Dec. 10 Montreal @ Detroit 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, Dec. 11 Montreal @ Toronto 7 p.m. ET

Sunday, Dec. 12 Washington @ NY Rangers 7 p.m. ET

Thursday, Dec. 16 Boston @ Montreal 7 p.m. ET

Friday, Dec. 17 Detroit @ Chicago 8:30 p.m. ET

Saturday, Dec. 18 Toronto @ Vancouver 7 p.m. ET

Sunday, Dec. 19 Los Angeles @ Chicago 7 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Dec. 22 Vancouver @ Detroit 7 p.m. ET

Thursday, Dec. 23 Pittsburgh @ Washington 7 p.m. ET

January

Saturday, Jan. 1 Toronto @ Ottawa 7 p.m. ET

Thursday, Jan. 6 Pittsburgh @ Montreal 7:30 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Jan. 12 Washington @ Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m. ET

Friday, Jan. 14 Vancouver @ Washington 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, Jan. 15 NY Rangers @ Montreal 7 p.m. ET

Sunday, Jan. 16 Nashville @ Chicago 7 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Jan. 19 Toronto @ NY Rangers 7 p.m. ET

Thursday, Jan. 20 Pittsburgh @ New Jersey 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, Jan. 22 Washington @ Toronto 7 p.m. ET

February

Friday, Feb. 4 Buffalo @ Pittsburgh 7 p.m. ET

Thursday, Feb. 10 Los Angeles @ Pittsburgh 7 p.m. ET

Friday, Feb. 11 Detroit @ Boston 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, Feb. 12 Toronto @ Montreal 7 p.m. ET

Thursday, Feb. 17 Los Angeles @ NY Rangers7 p.m. ET

Friday, Feb. 18 Philadelphia @ Carolina 8 p.m. ET

Saturday, Feb. 19 Ottawa @ Toronto 7 p.m. ET

Thursday, Feb. 24 Dallas @ Detroit 7 p.m. ET

Friday, Feb. 25 NY Rangers @ Washington 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, Feb. 26 Pittsburgh @ Toronto 7 p.m. ET

Sunday, Feb. 27 Phoenix @ Chicago 7 p.m. ET

Monday, Feb. 28 Detroit @ Los Angeles 10:30 p.m. ET

March

Thursday, Mar. 3 St. Louis @ Washington 7 p.m. ET

Friday, Mar. 4 Pittsburgh @ New Jersey 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, Mar. 5 Chicago @ Toronto 7 p.m. ET

Sunday, Mar. 6 Washington @ Florida 5 p.m. ET

Saturday, Mar. 12 Buffalo @ Toronto 7 p.m. ET

Friday, Mar. 18 Washington @ New Jersey 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, Mar. 19 Boston @ Toronto 7 p.m. ET

Thursday, Mar. 24 Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia 7 p.m. ET

Friday, Mar. 25 New Jersey @ Pittsburgh 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, Mar. 26 Toronto @ Detroit 7 p.m. ET

April

Saturday, April 2 Toronto @ Ottawa 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, April 9 Montreal @ Toronto 7 p.m. ET

*Schedule subject to change. Three additional games will be added to this schedule and announced at a later date.

NHL Partners to Support NHL Faceoff

NEW YORK/TORONTO (October 4, 2010) – The National Hockey League (NHL) will celebrate the opening of the 2010-11 NHL season on October 7 with 2010 NHL Face-Off™, a hockey and entertainment festival at Dundas Square in downtown Toronto. From Noon until the conclusion of the Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs game at Air Canada Centre, the NHL® and ten official League partners will treat fans at Dundas Square to live musical performances; interactive attractions that test hockey skills; prizing and giveaways, including a chance to win a trip to the 2011 NHL Heritage Classic™ courtesy of Canadian Tire; special guest appearances including former NHL players; food, beverage and merchandise tents; and live game broadcasts on giant video screens.

NHL Network™, CBC and VERSUS will broadcast from Dundas Square throughout the day. Portions of CBC’s pre-game show, Scotiabank Hockey Tonight, will air live from Dundas Square beginning nationally at 6:30 p.m. ET. With multiple video screens surrounding the 2010 NHL Face-Off area in Dundas Square, fans also will be able to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins taking on the Philadelphia Flyers, while the “Battle of Alberta” with the Edmonton Oilers hosting the Calgary Flames will be available for fans to view at the Official 2010 NHL Face-Off After Party at Maison Club.

“It’s very satisfying to see the excitement from our fans at the start of each season and we’re glad that we will be able to provide them with such a memorable experience with help from our partners,” shares Brian Jennings, NHL Executive Vice President of Marketing. “NHL Face-Off is one of the League’s signature events that creates a call-to-action for hockey fans of every team and provides a meaningful opportunity for our partners to activate against and engage with a highly desirable demographic.”

While festivities are underway in Toronto, an unprecedented six NHL teams – Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, Phoenix Coyotes and San Jose Sharks – will open their season by playing six games in Europe as part of 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere™ and 2010 NHL Face-Off™. Title sponsor Compuware is joined by Reebok, Blackberry, ESPN America, McDonald’s, Panini, and Elisa (Helsinki only) in support of the fourth consecutive year of regular-season games taking place across Europe.

The following is a breakdown of partner activation for 2010 NHL Face-Off.

Corporate Marketing Partner Face-Off Initiatives

Blackberry

BlackBerry® Brand Ambassadors will be on site giving away merchandise and providing demos of BlackBerry smartphones and apps. Fans will be able to BBM™ the team for battery swaps and to receive BlackBerry accessories, BBMe t-shirts and screen wipes.

Bridgestone

Bridgestone has developed a shoot-out skills competition where fans will attempt to shoot pucks past a goalie from a local highschool for a chance to win a set of Bridgestone Blizzak Tires.

Canadian Tire

Canadian Tire has created a green screen for fans to get their photo taken with a simulated Blackhawks Captain and current Stanley Cup® Champion Jonathan Toews.

On-site kiosks will allow fans to sign up to become a member of the Canadian Tire Hockey School.

EA Sports

EA Sports is working with Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Wii to set-up a demo station for NHL11 and NHL Slap Shot with prizes given away on-site.

Honda

Honda has developed an interactive stick handling challenge that will be set-up like an obstacle course for players to test their stick handling skills. Honda will be handing out pairs of tickets to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Also, the all-new Honda Odyssey will be on display for all fans to experience this exciting new vehicle.

Labatt

In the Bud Light Beer Garden, the “Hardest Shot” will be hosted where fans have the opportunity to test the difference in speed of shot using different projectiles – real puck, plastic puck, tennis ball, road hockey ball and sponge puck. Speed is measured on reader board with a “shot of the day” board tracking the best shots per ball/puck type.

Bud Light will also present a hockey trivia game that will run throughout the afternoon giving away Bud Light prize packs.

PepsiCo

Inspired by Sidney Crosby’s favorite childhood pastime of shooting pucks into a dryer in the basement of his family home, PepsiCo will set up an actual dryer into which fans may try to shoot pucks into. PepsiCo will also give fans the opportunity to win a chance to meet Sidney Crosby at the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic ®.

To promote their low calorie drink Pepsi Max, PepsiCo will be handing out cooked bacon slices to connect to Pepsi Max’s “save the calories for bacon” campaign.

Scotiabank

Fans are invited to dress up in goalie equipment and test their skills in net by making saves against foam pucks. Fans will also have the opportunity to develop their memory skills as they play ‘What’s In The Tin?’ for a chance to win regular season NHL tickets and Gary Roberts’ autographed jerseys.

Visa

Visa Infinite Cardholders will be given Visa NHL merchandise when they show their Visa Infinite Card to the Visa representatives at Visa’s on-site tent.

In addition, Visa Infinite Cardholders will have the chance to get Curtis Joseph’s autograph at the Visa tent from 5:15 – 6:45 pm.

XM Satellite Radio – North America

XM will create a shoot-out area, give away coupons for XM service and accessories, and register participants for the XM Home Ice Advantage Contest via iPads.

Additional details, including applicable rules, regarding these exciting NHL partner initiatives will be available on-site at the NHL Face-Off event.