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ESPN and the National Hockey League have announced that they have reached a seven-year agreement that will bring the Stanley Cup Finals to Disney’s ABC Broadcast Network and make hundreds of local television games available on the streaming channel ESPN+.
ESPN is paying about $2.8 billion for the pay-per-view and broadcast rights, according to people familiar with the matter. A spokesman for ESPN declined to comment on the financial terms. We believe the agreement reflects the quality and scope of the content acquired, she stated.
The pact, which takes effect at the start of the 2021-22 season, places dozens of regular season games exclusively on ESPN and ABC’s traditional television networks and gives ESPN+ and Hulu exclusive broadcast rights to 75 regular season games nationally, the companies said.
The negotiations between the NHL and ESPN were already reported by the Wall Street Journal and other sources on Tuesday.
The companies said the deal gives ESPN the right to broadcast 1,000 local game shows on ESPN+ to people in different media markets. The offering, which was previously available on NHL.TV, will be discontinued, according to a person familiar with the matter.
In addition to the digital rights, the agreement between ESPN and the NHL covers television rights to about half of the league’s series and regular season games, the person said. The league is in talks with several other media companies to license the other half, he said.
NBCUniversal is the NHL’s primary television partner in the United States. The 10-year, $2 billion contract expires at the end of this season. NBCUniversal is also in talks with the NHL to maintain a relationship with the league, said a person familiar with the matter.
As a result of the agreement, the Stanley Cup Finals will air on ABC for four of the next seven years, the companies announced. ESPN and ABC will also provide exclusive live coverage of a series of conference finals and half of the first and second round Stanley Cup playoff games.
The agreement also includes the broadcasting rights for the matches in selected international markets such as Latin America and Europe. ESPN pays an average of about $400 million a year for full digital TV rights in the U.S. and partial TV rights in the U.S., paying a premium over what NBCUniversal pays for full TV rights in the U.S., according to a person familiar with the matter. ESPN currently pays the NHL $100 million a year for digital and broadcast rights, which are also part of the new deal, the person said.
NBCUniversal broadcasts most of its NHL on NBC Sports Network and NBC Television, but the company announced it would close NBC Sports Network at the end of the year and move its NHL games to USA Network. The NHL also broadcasts the games on its own channel, the NHL Network. Comcast is a partner of the NHL Network.
The NHL’s agreement with ESPN is part of the trend of higher sports spending. ESPN, NBC,
Fox is negotiating new long-term deals for National Football League rights. Fox Corporation and the parent company of The Wall Street Journal
to have an ordinary quality.
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Published on March 11. 2021 in a print publication titled The Hockey Deal is worth $2.8 billion.
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