NHL May Hit $200M Jackpot For Rights Fees

Thanks to John Ourand from SBJ for offering up this story to us without the paywall. Here’s some of the key info:

The NHL is expecting to entertain offers from ESPN, NBC/Versus and a surprisingly strong push from Turner. Fox, which had early talks with the NHL, is not believed to be in the running to pick up the rights.

It’s difficult to declare a front-runner, sources said. But NBC and Versus hold a significant advantage over the other bidders. Their current contracts give them the right to match other offers the NHL gets, from either ESPN or Turner.


NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins has been leading the negotiations for the league.


Versus and NBC’s exclusive negotiating windows ended earlier this year, allowing the NHL to engage other networks for both the cable and broadcast packages.


The most intriguing potential bid comes from Turner, which is looking to add sports to its truTV lineup. TruTV was a big part of Turner’s NCAA tournament coverage, and Turner executives were happy with the channel’s performance. TruTV is in 93 million homes.


Sources close to the discussions said Turner is more interested in bidding for the NFL when that league’s rights come up in 2013. While it’s interested in the NHL, it’s not willing to break the bank on it.


ESPN has talked with the NHL about placing the league’s entire television package – broadcast and cable – on ESPN2. But an ESPN source also said that ABC remains a viable option, particularly for the Stanley Cup Final.




About Steve Lepore
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14 Responses to NHL May Hit $200M Jackpot For Rights Fees

  1. Stephen says:

    Looks like NBC/VERSUS will win the rights. I always said that Dick Ebersol is smart.

  2. Chris S says:

    Why would the NHL agree to put everything on ESPN2? That would be stupid of them. Stick with NBC/Versus, but add in ESPN2 for a Thursday night package, plus games from the first two rounds in the playoffs.

    • Stephen says:

      Forget ESPN, the only thing they will cover is NBA Playoffs besides the NHL. ESPN now is not the same without Hockey. NHL should stay on NBC/VERSUS.

      • leafsfan1967 says:

        Surely, if ESPN are interested this should be considered a live option. They have much greater potential to deliver viewers to the NHL than Versus ever will…

  3. Matthew says:

    A few months ago I would’ve been fine with TruTV getting some rights but now Time Warner Cable has moved it on to digital only where you need a cable box to receive it, just like VS.

    • nosferatu says:

      This really is the argument for ESPN2, or certain other networks. I mean, it’s fine, I do it, but I pay $5 extra per month just to get the package with Versus. Most cable companies seem to have ESPN2 as part of a free HD package, as well.

      So while I prefer watching the games on Versus, I have to say it would be nice to actually be able to watch hockey when I’m at my girlfriend’s place.

  4. Caps Nut says:

    As flawed as it may be, the NHL has a good thing going with NBC/Versus, especially now that Comcast and NBC-Universal have merged.

    The NHL would be foolish to go to ESPN at this point.

    • Stephen says:

      I agree with you. Ever since VERSUS (back then OLN) and NBC got the rights to the NHL, the ratings weren’t rising. But now, the ratings has been rising up great and the sport is getting popular now. So don’t worry about it, NBC and VERSUS will keep the rights for a long time.

  5. Trent says:

    20 million more home with ESPN2 than Versus + hotel and bar access are the advantages that ESPN2 has.

    John Shannon who used to work for the league in that department yesterday pondered a split cable partnership.

    But lump me into the group that want NBC/Versus to hang onto the rights or have the lion’s share of the property.

    • leafsfan1967 says:

      I agree that the NBC Versus approach has gotten better. The changes to the on air talent at Versus have made a difference [improvement by subtraction I call it]. Now we are on to the playoffs and it will be very interesting to see how Versus handles things.

  6. kevin says:

    I would stick with NBC/Versus. No way would ESPN do what Versus is doing with NHL coverage. If ESPN wants hockey it would have to be one game per week on ESPN. Keep everything else on Versus…

  7. Mike in Idaho says:

    I also say stick with NBC/Versus. I never liked ESPN to begin wtih and also really don’t want to see a TruTV deal.

  8. Dave Sullivan says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I thought the picture on truTV was awful during the NCAA Tournament. Back when the NHL signed with Outdoor Life Network, it had the virtue of actually being a sports network of sorts. But other than the early round Tourney coverage, truTV has almost no sports history. Also, it doesn’t have the best channel assignment on my system. It’s better than Versus, but I think the league would have to overcome primary inertia on truTV since people would complaining about how they couldn’t find the games. It would be 2005 all over again.

    Will Comcast be able to use its ownership of NBC to leverage Versus and Golf Channel?

  9. Larry says:

    Trutv is in more homes (20 mill) than Versus. Too bad they can’t share rights…..but each network wants finals or no part. John collins will do his best to have 2 partners and sell the idea of rotating finals or sharing games in the finals. If that can’t work and ESPN won’t guarantee finals on ABC, they won’t go to ESPN. ABC will do NBA but not to both since they draw higher ratings on abc shows. But the nhl wants a network to show some games (season+playoffs+finals) on national network.

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