Comcast-NBCU Merger Happens Just as VERSUS’ Exclusive Negotiating Period with NHL Ends

From David Shoalts of The Globe & Mail:

The window on the exclusive negotiating period between the NHL and its American cable television network, Versus, closed Monday, although it does not mean the end to their relationship.


Since the window closed amid a host of changes at the network – from an executive shakeup on Tuesday to the earlier completion of the takeover of NBC by Versus’s parent company, Comcast Corp. – the relationships between the NHL and its U.S. broadcasters are now “complicated,” according to a league executive who wished to remain anonymous.


What complicates matters is that NBC happens to be the NHL’s over-the-air carrier in the U.S., and now both of the league’s American television broadcasters are owned by the same company. Both contracts expire at the end of this season.


NBC has its own window for exclusive negotiations with the NHL, and those talks are believed to be under way. Thus, the expiration of Versus’s period to negotiate exclusively with the NHL does not mean the league is going to immediately throw its U.S. television rights up for bids from competing networks such as ESPN, which is supposed to have at least some interest.


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