Report: VERSUS Won’t Let Go of NHL Contract

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.


8 Responses to Report: VERSUS Won’t Let Go of NHL Contract

  1. leafsfan1967 says:

    I wonder if for the good of the game Mr. Snider might let his Philadelphia TV stations onto DirecTV and Dish so local sports fans aren’t shut out from watching his teams.

  2. Sam Shafer says:

    Keeping the NHL on Versus only is a terrible decision which makes me absolutely disgusted. Say what you will about ESPN’s coverage of the sport but Versus is an obscure channel that many sports fans don’t have access to. I currently have Dish network and Versus is on the 3rd tier of programming for them. I’m a direhard hockey fan and subscribe to center ice but I don’t feel like paying the extra money every month for versus. I will upgrade for 2 months during the playoffs but after that Versus is not going to be on my TV. I would rather watch free and easily available streams online for Versus games.

    Until Versus becomes a mainstream channel that is available through all basic packages, the NHL will miss a lot of potential viewers. ESPN is the main sports channel in America, the NHL needs to recognize this and ink a deal. I have nothing against Versus coverage, but I have everything against it’s mainstream availability.

    • Ryan says:

      Whoa, is it 2006 again?

      • nosferatu says:

        Doesn’t Ryan’s original post just show how things really haven’t changed all that much in this regard since 2006?

        I’ve come to terms with the league sticking with Versus, but I’d like to see another cable network–be it ESPN, FX, anything–added to the mix for more coverage, especially come playoff time. Versus on its own will never be able to carry the load, and the NHL Network doesn’t seem to want to get involved in broadcasting the other games.

      • nosferatu says:

        Sorry, meant Sam’s post.

  3. Mike in Idaho says:

    “‘Tis better to reign in hell than serve in heaven” – Gary Bettman

  4. E says:

    It would be great for the league to continue it’s relationship with versus. The best thing that happened was to lose ESPN.

  5. DyHrdMET says:

    I welcome the NHL shunning ESPN. I love it in fact. ESPN just has no place for the NHL.

    But I saw soimething at the end of the press release that I had forgotten about — Comcast owns both a team in the NHL and the league’s cable TV rights (and now, I guess, the broadcast TV rights). At least Comcast has been good for the NHL.

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