In March, Disney reached a major new 7-year rights deal that will bring games to ESPN, ABC, ESPN+, and Hulu. While it was seen as the primary package, there was thought that NBC could retain the second half of the package. At the time, NBC told The Streamable, “We continue to discuss a potential future with the league as we focus on the season at hand.”
According to SBJ, those discussions are now over. NBC has reportedly “pulled out of the bidding”, which would mean that games won’t air on NBC for the first time since the 2005-06 season. This comes as NBCU will be will be shutting down NBC Sports Network this year. Other sports like Premier League and what remains of this NHL season, including the playoffs will move to USA Network.
SBJ’s John Ourand suggests that Turner is “likely to pick up the rest of the package.” TSN’s Bob McKenzie said that the “NHL’s new secondary broadcast partner is likely to be TNT.” Sportsnet’s Eliotte Friedman says that the league will have a “Board of Governors call later today to update the upcoming US TV picture,” with 3 of the next 7 Stanley Cup’s airing on TNT.
This mirrors what WWE’s President Nick Khan said on last week’s earnings call, “It’s our belief that NBC and the NHL are not going to continue to be in business together…Our bet is that part of the package goes to a new suitor.”
The other packages will include regular season games, some Stanley Cup playoffs, three Stanley Cup Finals, and the NHL Winter Classic.
Starting next season, ESPN will once again air NHL games – including 25 exclusive nationally-televised regular season games which will appear on ABC or ESPN. They will also air four Stanley Cup Finals during that period on ABC, which can be simulcast on ESPN+ and other ESPN networks.
For streamers, 75 regular season telecasts will appear exclusively on ESPN+ and Hulu, and will be available to Hulu SVOD subscribers. The NHL’s out-of-market package will also now be available to stream only as part of ESPN+, meaning fans can access more than 1,000 live out-of-market telecasts with the service.