Blog Entry

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

Posted on: April 19, 2011 11:20 am
Edited on: April 19, 2011 5:45 pm
The NHL has reached a broadcast deal that will keep it on NBC and Versus. 

The Comcast-owned duo beat out Fox, Turner and ESPN --- all of which dropped out of the bidding. The Sports Business Journal reports  the NBC Sports Group will pay in excess of $200 million per season under the 10-year deal. That's nearly triple the guaranteed money under the current deal, originally signed out of the lockout. 

"I think everybody has enormous respect for ESPN, but six years ago we chose to go in a different direction for a variety of reasons and we believe it's worked out well for us," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a conference call on Tuesday. "And the promise of what NBC Universal/Comcast I think is extraordinarily exciting."

Over the last six years, NBC and the NHL had a revenue sharing arrangement. It was a great deal for NBC and one the NHL had to take after the 2004-05 season was lost due to a work stoppage. Now, not only has the NHL signed its most lucrative TV deal in its history -- easily surpassing the pre-lockout ABC/ESPN agreement -- but the partnership could soon grow beyond just Versus and NBC, Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports Group, explained.  

"The new company at NBC Universal represents 20 channels, 20 unique channels, covering a diversity that no other company has ever had, from significantly strong female channels to young channels, young adult channels, to the most powerful cable entertainment network in the world in the USA Network, CNBC, Telemundo," Ebersol said. "We have a way to talk to the audience that no one has ever had before. And these guys, their mouths are watering to get their hands on being identified."

The deal negates any non-NBC Universal/Comcast property from carrying games in the U.S. The new deal also means the end of regional sports networks carrying playoff games past the first round of the playoffs beginning next year. 

"We have the market power we need both for Madison Avenue for advertising, and we clearly have it among the cable community with this level of exclusivity and the fact it's one-stop shopping," Ebersol said. 

The new deal calls for 100 regular season games and NBC will begin televising games on Thanksgiving Friday. 

-- A.J. Perez
Category: NHL
Tags: ESPN, NHL, Versus

Since: Sep 8, 2009
Posted on: April 19, 2011 5:02 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

These have got to be the two worst networks to even boradcast sports. Hockey games on NBC and Vs are downright unwatchable. The announcers couldn't be worse. If they had any brains they'd let the local affiliates do the broadcasts. They waste so much money getting these contracts and the productions of these games, for what? It excites no one, hopefully the money that the NHL gets can be put to good use.

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:58 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

Whomever slams ESPN for only showing a handful of teams in any sport they broadcast while they praise NBC getting the NHL again is hypocritical.  Every broadcast on NBC must involve the Rangers, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Penguins, Flyers, or Capitals.  Could they be a little more creative?  It's no different from ESPN having the Yankees or Red Sox every other game.

Versus has a limited number of teams it shows as well.  I've tried to catch a game with the NHL's #1 team this year, Vancouver, and haven't had a shot to see them on NBC or Versus.  How can you grow the game when you don't acknowledge teams west of the Mississippi?  I hear there's a team in Phoenix and haven't seen them either.  (And from the attendance numbers, I think that applies to the population of Arizona, too!)

How NBC/Versus can justify $200 million a year is beyond me.  If that number being kicked around is what was settled upon, I'm amazed.  It reminds me of Fox overbidding back in the late 1980s when they wanted to land the NFL in the worst way to get them some press and attention as the new kid on the block.

Since: May 5, 2009
Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:53 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

Bro--you are high. The NHL has been resurrected by A. The Olympics and B) Sidney Croby, Malkin, Ovechkin, and the likes.

NOT OLN AND VERSUS. Put down the pipe.

Since: May 5, 2009
Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:48 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

I just dont understand some of the hockey fans being content with their sport being shown on a sub par station as Versus. They have done a horrendous job covering the sport as a whole. I get it. There is room for improvment but they have had like 5 years to straighten it out.

NBC treats the NHL as the red headed step child of a telecast. Its completely disorganized and too much has happened from SATURDAY to SATURDAY to give their summary.

I would die to have CBC and TSN, unfortunately the US and its cable companies have followed Bettman's lead on treating the sport as an afterthought.

My personal opinion with Bettmans decision to not do anything on the "thugs" and shots to the head has shown that he is not serious on evolving the sport to what makes it so popular.

With this contract, and their refusal to protect its superstars will sink this support into the grave it has been heading.


Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:48 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

I am glad the NHL is staying put. I really get very irritated with ESPN and it's "Sportainment", I only watch it because it has a borderline monopoly on sports programming. On ESPN they'd be the 10th option behind women's softball, on Versus they're the #1 option and they're featured prominently on NBC because they have limited sports programming as well. On ESPN there's talking heads that'll bash the NHL because of it's "violence" (i.e. fighting) or "lack of diversity." The only bad thing about the Versus deal is you can't find it in the hotel. But at home you can't beat the NHL marathon on Versus during the playoffs. As others have said ESPN basically left the NHL for dead a few years ago, so good riddance to them.

I think Bettman has finally realized how to manage the league, in terms of resisting ESPN and resisting the calls to remove fighting from the game. He realizes if it's managed right, the NHL can be a good, profitable product. They don't need to wussify it or try to appeal to some audience that will never like hockey anyways.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:34 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

Bettman is a cancer on hockey and sports. He's no David Stern.
That's a contradiction. David Stern is a cancer on basketball and sports. So which is it, is Bettman a cancer on hockey and sports, or is he no David Stern? He can't be both.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:31 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

Are you nuts?? Gary Thorne was amazing. ESPN single handedly put the NHL on its back and brought it to the national lime light in the US from the mid nineties to the strike. After the strike --- no fault to ESPN--- the sport died ON OLN and VERSUS!
Are YOU nuts? The sport resurrected itself on OLN and Versus. The ratings are better now than they ever were on ESPN. People can't find this channel? Yeah, right. The joke is old and washed up. ESPN thought it was so big that the NHL needed it to survive, and the NHL gambled on Versus and won. Now ESPN realized that it's going to lose both football and basketball and that the NHL is doing just fine without it, but why should the NHL come back to them now? With the ratings better on Versus and Versus willing to make the NHL its No. 1 priority, what possible reason would the NHL have to come back to ESPN?

ESPN chose to let the NHL die without it. Now the NHL has turned the tables. Great move by Bettman to stick with Versus.

Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:27 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

I hate the 4 letter network, but for people to see hockey, ESPN is needed.  However, they have a tendency to dump one sport for another (meaning when the season is in the middle, they are willing to show other sports.  Example is football taking baseball's spots).  Verses is good, but can anyone really say they look at Verses first?  IT is the four letter first and others second.  I just wish Fox would do something to battle E S P N.

Since: Apr 19, 2011
Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:26 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

Well Said buddy, finally a true fan.  That glowing puck was the worst thing the sport could have done. 

Since: Feb 11, 2011
Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:26 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

ESPN is far superior and has Barry Melrose.

I'm just glad those of us in Colorado get the joys of watching Brian Engblom on Altitude before, during intermission, and after the game.

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