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ESPN+ Adds PHF (Formerly NWHL) to Hockey Content Offerings

Jeff Kotuby

ESPN+ is quickly becoming the hockey fan’s premier (no pun intended) streaming destination.

Today, ESPN announced that the Premier Hockey Federation, formerly known as the National Women’s Hockey League, will air all 60 regular-season games and its Isobel Cup playoffs on ESPN+. For the first time in the league’s existence, every single contest will air on one platform.

“This is historic for us,” PHF commissioner Tyler Tumminia said, noting that negotiations had been ongoing for approximately five months. “ESPN is becoming the home of hockey, right? We all wanted to be a part of that.”

And become the home of hockey it has. Outside of adding the NHL in a monumental seven-year deal earlier this year, ESPN has also added the KHL to its existing men’s and women’s NCAA hockey coverage, creating a streaming destination for hockey fans across the country. What Paramount+ has tried to do for soccer by nabbing up broadcast rights, ESPN+ is certainly trying to do for hockey.

With the move to the Worldwide Leader’s streaming platform, Tumminia also said the league’s games will have an upgraded broadcast presentation, and members of the PHF community and some “potential talent from the ESPN+ side” will help with the broadcasts this season. You can also expect to see ESPN+’s hockey studio shows like In the Crease cover the PHF, too.

According to the league, the ESPN+ deal was one of the catalysts for the PHF’s rebranding. The league was founded as the National Women’s Hockey League in 2015 and played six seasons under that banner before changing to the Premier Hockey League earlier this year, saying that the new name, “re-defines the league’s brand based on the skill and talent of its athletes as opposed to their gender and is the first professional women’s sports league in North America to lift the word ‘women’s out of its title” according to its official press release.

“We knew we wanted to rebrand before announcing the ESPN+ deal. The stage will be larger than we’ve ever been on. The exposure for brand awareness will be larger,” said Tumminia, who was named league commissioner in August. “The athletes felt very passionate about defining themselves just as skilled athletes.”

The PHF season officially begins on November 6.

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