ESPN, NHL Reach TV Deal

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One Big Thing: ESPN, NHL Reach TV Deal

What’s Happening: Starting next season, hockey fans will be flipping to ESPN to watch NHL hockey for the next seven years. ESPN appears on track to broadcast four Stanley Cup Finals between 2022 and 2028, and the NHL’s out-of-market streaming package will be available for fans with an ESPN+ subscription.

Tell Me More: According to a press release, the deal “is highlighted by: exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup Final on ABC in four of the seven years of the agreement; the return of live NHL action to ESPN networks with 25 exclusive national regular-season games on ABC or ESPN; half of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on ABC and ESPN each season; and coverage annually of NHL’s Face-off (opening night games), the NHL All-Star Game and Skills Challenge, plus other NHL special events each season.”

What About NBC? Right now, NBC pays $200 million per year for exclusive U.S. media rights to the NHL. That deal expires at the end of this season. NBC’s Sports Network will shut down by the end of this year, and most content will be migrated to other Comcast properties like USA Network, which currently airs re-runs of Modern Family and Law & Order SVU.

What’s Next: It’s possible that NBC will hold on to some NHL games and air the remaining three Stanley Cups on one of its properties, like NBC, USA or Peacock. NBC is currently weighing its options — the NFL wants to double the amount the network pays to air “Sunday Night Football,” so the network may be forced to do some budget tetris. Fox is another contender for the other half of the NHL deal, and so is CBS.

Insider Updates & Analysis

  • Digging Deeper: More details on the blockbuster 7-year agreement between the NHL and ESPN.

  • Update: Tuesday, Auston Matthews debuted these custom CCM skates featuring the Toronto skyline.

  • Update: Vegas defenseman Dylan Coghlan scored his first three NHL goals and Vegas goaltender Logan Thompson saw his first NHL action in a 4-3 loss to the Wild.

  • Update: Kurtis Gabriel, Kyle Clifford engage in lengthy discussion during warm-ups before fighting less than three minutes into the game.

  • Update: 31-year-old Kings goaltender Troy Grosenick won Wednesday against the Ducks in his 3rd career start — and 1st in over 6 years.

  • Rumor: The NHL draft will take place as planned in July, Darren Dreger reports. Some NHL general managers had wanted to postpone it to January 2022.

  • Update: Secondary scoring has been key for several teams during this truncated season.

A Question for the Peanut Gallery

Will the NHL’s return to ESPN help or hurt the game of hockey?

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