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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: Jan 3, 2009
Posted on: April 19, 2011 3:18 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

Good deal for the NHL and for NBC/Versus. Yeah it was tough to swallow OLN at first but the channel as Versus is growing and they were savvy enough to see that the NHL is on it's way back up. While it will never match the NFL and MLB in its US fandom, the league should be very valuable in the upcoming years as the young superstars gain more exposure in the various media.

Many complain the NHL is not on ESPN, but even when it was, it was treated so poorly as to be embarrassing. I am happy the NHL gave ESPN the finger before and am very happy they did it again. Barring any additional foolish lockout, the NHL will be very strong for this 10-year contract.

And as far as Emrick goes, I love him. He makes every play of the game exciting and to me keeps the average viewer tuned in with his game calling. I have to say that the NBC crew does an excellent job of presenting the NHL on Sundays.

Since: Feb 10, 2009
Posted on: April 19, 2011 3:02 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

wow some very good posts starblazer 5 stars my man, well said

Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: April 19, 2011 2:52 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

no offense, but did you listen to the owners talk when they said that more than half of them lost money last year, and did you listen to the owners when they said 2 years ago that the NHL was now worth 15% less as a whole after the lock out?   they are either serial liars, or they are  businessmen with their own interests at heart. or both.....of course they think the NHL is run better than the NBA, they own NHL teams.  they are not NBA owners so they would have no idea one way or the other.  Gary bettman is a chode of epic porportion, and should never be defended, unless it is by the donkey that he starred in all of those tijuana movies with.
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Since: Aug 22, 2007
Posted on: April 19, 2011 2:39 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

I hear all this talk about what a joke the NHL is, what a joke Bettman is.  However, an owner that owns a hockey team and a basketball team was quoted as saying the NHL is run much better than the NBA.  While I'm sure some posters would argue they know more than an owner themselves, I'd tend to listen to an owner first for some crazy reason.  Furthermore, 200 million is HUGE for the league.  While some look at the marketing aspect of just what channel the game is on, you have to look deeper then that and realize this is 80 million more than what ESPN paid them back in 04 and realize that 80 million while some will be kept by the owners, will be spent on promoting the game itself.  I think getting back into ESPN would have been a great thing for the league, but overall if it came anything less than the 200 million, what is to say that more highlights on ESPN is going to help more than that money they forego?  In my opinion ESPN is a thing of the 90s anyway.  I think nowadays with so much choice, the Sports SUPERSTATION is a thing of the past.  I personally haven't tuned into ESPN in close to a year, I have DirecTV and until a few days ago didn't even know what channel it was on.  Part of that is due to the fact I believe the NBA is unwatchable, but part of that is also due to the fact, as someone said, all they do is show stupid stuff like Poker on there 24/7.  While there will always be a market in the US for gambling, I just think ESPN might have been better off as well, getting a slice of the NHL product and showing a little less boring TV that they do nowadays.  Oh, and for those that don't get Versus, maybe it's time to change your provider to something more current with the times....

Since: May 5, 2009
Posted on: April 19, 2011 2:37 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! I am surprised Bettman didnt put it on a Cooking Channel.

The fact that Bettman signed an extenstion with the joke of networks makes me laugh. He has basically said any potential NHL fans out there-- I dont care.

Since: Nov 22, 2006
Posted on: April 19, 2011 2:29 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

@ titanz13, you called it - ESPN is horrible.  Once you get past the fact that the games are on VS, their coverage is a lot better than ESPNs ever was.  Thorne and Clement were atrocious.
I do hope that at some point in this deal, the NBC weekend game starts at night and not 1 pm.  

Personally, I think they should make a deal with Canadian TV and let them do every game.  Their intro's to playoff games are amazing - if you're a hockey fan and this doesn't give you goosebumps, call 911...  - and fantastic, knowledgeable coverage continues the whole game.

TSN and CBC coverage is infinitely better than what any US network has ever come up with ....

Since: Jan 22, 2010
Posted on: April 19, 2011 2:28 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

NBC should be BANNED from broadcasting Hockey!!!  WTH is WRONG with the NHL???

Since: Dec 27, 2007
Posted on: April 19, 2011 2:25 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

ESPN will have to stick to ruining football, baseball, basketball and college athletics

ESPN in many ways is terrible, but Versus is a joke. Many ppl don't get the station and their coverage is laughable. Even ESPN has higher standards. ESPN brings resources and viewers. The NHL desperately needs to increase its fan base and they won't when many sports fans can't view their greatest recruiting pitch, the playoffs. A casual fan could be hooked watching the post-season. It's always great. Now, they get a bone from NBC on 12:30 EST or 3 PM EST on Sunday.

Fox does a great job with the NFL. They have great resources and are willing to pay for top talent. NBC is a flat out joke. Emrick is a good announcer, but after that, it's garbage. They also never advertize. Fox would plaster hockey on it's Sunday night line-up and FoxNews. That would at least give hockey a chance to be viewed. Once ppl do and see what this sport has, they'd come back.

Hockey has it all. It's fast. It's got violence. There are great goals, hits and saves every game. Players play after being bloodied. They get stitched up and return. Look at Franzen. The guy got banged up and faced, came back the next game and scored. Ppl love that toughness and dedication.

Hockey is really the most multi-cultural of all sports. The media views this to mean latin or black players, but it's not. It's different cultures or ppls, not just race. The NHL has Americans, Canadians, Swedes, Finns, Czechs, Slovaks and Russians. They bring different styles and skills to the sport which has made it more exciting and beautiful. 

Hockey has it all except for a forum for ppl to really view it the way it should be viewed. For that you can blame Bettman. He's trying to destroy what Gretzky and others in the 80's did to make the sport great again. Until he goes, the NHL will be the Nothing Happens League. What a shame.

Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: April 19, 2011 2:16 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

Thank goodness, I was worried I would lose Pierre, JR, Milbury, Keenan, and the gang from my post season NHL coverage for next year.

They must already know the exact timeline for the Coyotes move out of Glendale.   This deal should help the sales (full and partial) for the franchises of STL, Dal, CLB, ATL, CAR, etc.    The inevitable refinancing of a number of other franchises should also benefit from all the gauranteed money.   Too bad the deal is for 10 years, way too long.    There will be a giant piece of market share to pickup in a number of franchise cities with some of the issues in other sports, particularly the NBA, and in a few years this deal may look like a real bargain for Comcast.    We'll see how the sales of the franchises go the next 10 weeks and we should have a real good idea of how healthy the league is going to be moving forward.    This deal is still only worth about a quarter of what the NBA tv deal is making for that league.    Because of the length of the contract, I'm not sure if I'm ready to wear my "Gary Bettman signature bathrobe and slippers" after this year.

Since: Dec 27, 2007
Posted on: April 19, 2011 2:10 pm

NHL to remain on NBC, Versus; no ESPN again

They are going to be showing poker tournaments and baseball players offseason reality television  shows next winter.

Sadly, they'll still outdraw the NHL even with that crud.

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