Report: VERSUS Won’t Let Go of NHL Contract
February 9, 2011 8 Comments
From the great Stu Hackel of SI:
There has been much speculation about where the NHL’s U.S. TV rights are headed, but one source who is familiar with the negotiations says talks are continuing on a long-term deal that would keep the league’s games on NBC and Versus for anywhere between four and seven years.
While there have been reports that a bidding war is developing over the NHL’s rights on both broadcast and cable, there are indications that NBC and Versus will hold onto the packages, although the rights fees will be steeper. Within the TV industry, the thinking is that NBC’s retaining the rights to the NHL is crucial, not just to its effort to upgrade Versus, but also for the prestige of NBCUniversal’s new corporate structure and the new NBC Sports Group, as the NHL contract is their first deal to be negotiated. The source added that ESPN is unlikely to win any part of the national cable package.
In addition, the source said, Flyers owner Ed Snider “won’t let the NHL leave” Versus and NBC. “And I’d be very surprised if he would devalue the brand by letting ESPN have even a secondary national cable package.” In addition to his position as a powerful NHL team owner and member of the league’s Board of Governors Executive Committee, Snider is American Chairman of Comcast Spectacor.