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NHL and NBC Sports Group sign 10-year broadcast deal

Apr 19, 2011, 1:53 PM EDT

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With the NHL seeing revenues increasing each year and NHL fans coming back to the game and making it popular all over again, the expiration of the NHL’s TV deal with NBC and Versus at the end of this season brought about speculation about where the NHL might end up on the air in the future. After all, there was a lot of money to be had and to be made on the league with stars like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Patrick Kane to show off.

Today, the NHL signed a 10-year pact with NBC Sports Group to carry games on NBC and Versus and a deal that sees new and unprecedented coverage of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Also, expect to see a lot more hockey on your television sets in the next ten years through the 2020-2021 season.

The expanded partnership, under which NBC remains the exclusive network home and VERSUS the exclusive cable home of the NHL in the U.S., is highlighted by the first-ever national distribution of all Stanley Cup Playoffs contests, including, for the first time, exclusive coverage starting with the Conference Semifinals. The agreement also calls for the NBC Sports Group to televise 100 regular season games per year and introduces a national NBC broadcast on Thanksgiving Friday.

Black Friday and New Year’s Day with big broadcasts? Happy Holidays to everyone.

Versus will now carry up to 90 exclusive broadcasts as well, a total that’s well up from this year and all previous seasons the NHL has been on Versus.

Also part of the deal is the continued coverage of the NHL All Star Game as well as the NHL Premiere Series in Europe, and NHL Faceoff on Versus. Versus will also have an exclusive national “Game of the Week” each week. From an NBC view of things, the Winter Classic and Hockey Day In America will continue as well. You can say that we’re rather excited about all of this.

The biggest part of the deal is that it means the NHL will be set on television for the next decade and with viewership growing and the numbers of fans increasing as well as the improvement of revenue for all teams across the board things are showing consistent improvement everywhere. The exclusivity offered by this deal for the NHL across the NBC networks helped make it a virtual no-brainer. We’re pretty sure the money helps too as rights fees will now be paid by NBC to carry the NHL. That wasn’t the case since the lockout as the NHL was essentially given a big favor by NBC to carry games coming out of the lockout in 2005.

We’re excited over here for obvious reasons. Getting to bring you all content from NBC and now Versus (which will be re-named in the next 90 days according to Dick Ebersol) from the studio talents like Keith Jones, Mike Milbury, and Jeremy Roenick is a huge thrill for us because, hey we’re fans too. Being a small cog in the machine that helps bring you all this great hockey stuff is a huge thrill for us and we’re happy to be along for the ride for (hopefully!) the next ten years.

  1. hanktheking - Apr 19, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    I love it. I’m from Canada but there is no better broadcast out there than the one on Sunday mornings by NBC. Great for the game to take off the way it has recently!

  2. daveincleveland - Apr 19, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    It was a mistake to go with Versus to begin with. You had a league coming off of a lockout, waning in people’s minds, easily #4 in the “Big 4″ sports leagues, so to get the product in front of the viewers, you go with an obscure network that most don’t even get? Brilliant.

    Versus has grown a little since then. However, it’s still not part of my cable package, and I’m not the only one.

    That said, it would have been better to go back to ESPN. Bottom line, it’s a staple in any basic cable package, so that means more viewers… lots more viewers…. 20,000,000 more households get the network over Versus.

    I guess getting eyes on the product still isn’t important.

    • kingjoe1 - Apr 19, 2011 at 7:58 PM

      ESPN is a joke when it comes to the NHL. Their coverage is based upon what they show, and simply has become the sports version of MTV. VS and NBC have the success of the NHL in their minds and they will give it the coverage it deserves.
      When it comes to real quality sports coverage, you simply turn on NHL TV, MLB TV or the NFL network. ESPN is simply a self-indulging wreck, full of lousy documentaries that they hype during their news segments. It rarely deserves a click from my remote.

  3. donttouchthedirtypenny - Apr 19, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    ESPN is becoming too big for it’s own good. NHL did fine going with Versus and NBC. Now they just need to get Mike Emerick to stop talking to the audience like we’re all novices and to stop trying to wax poetic like Robert Frost and talk seriously about the game.

  4. sportsinhd - Apr 20, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    The NHL desperately needs some sort of deal with ESPN. With hockey not on ESPN there’s no motivation for the “World Wide Leader” to talk about it on Sportscenter or shows like Pardon the Interruption. The NHL needs the exposure that ESPN can bring, even if the deal doesn’t net much (if any) cash. Some sort of “Game of the Week” on ESPN 2 would have been just fine with everything else on Versus. Versus just screams “Second Tier Sports League” to the majority of the American public. Even Major League Soccer is on ESPN.

    Perhaps next year the NHL and Versus can fix the crappy/spotty playoff coverage we’re currently getting. As a Pens fan I want to be watching their first round series, which isn’t available outside of local markets and Canada. Lame. That would never happen with the NBA, MLB, or the NFL.

  5. echolmberg - Apr 20, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    NBC & VS BADLY needs to improve the analysts. I am willing to give Roenick time to improve, but seriously Keith Jones? Eddie Olczyk? Brian Engblom? Terrible. Get some real talent.

  6. gocaps8 - Apr 20, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    I’m going for NHL Center Ice next season because I just don’t get enough out of market games here in D.C.

  7. Janet Sunderland - Apr 20, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    I receive NHL Center Ice, and I have the multi sports package with Dish Network. But, in order to receive the Versus channel I have to upgrade my Dish package from 200 to 250 channels, this means $10.00 more per month. It is ridiculous that Dish packages Versus this way. So, I am missing quality playoff games. I was really hoping the NHL would go with ESPN.

  8. mattg629 - Apr 20, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    Now, if NBC can buy The Atlanta Thrashers and keep em here, that would be great!

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