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ESPN/NHL Strike 7-Year TV Deal

The NHL and The Walt Disney Company, owners of ESPN, have agreed to a seven-year deal for rights to broadcast NHL games starting in Fall 2021.

Photo: NHL.com

NBC’s NHL TV deal is expiring at the conclusion of the 2021 NHL season. With the need for a new television network looming, the NHL and ESPN have come to an agreement on a seven-year contract.

This deal is monumental for the NHL, as more games will be broadcast across multiple Disney owned platforms and include a larger variety of out-of-market games. The deal is unlike anything seen in modern sports, as the emphasis on streaming is the key to this deal.

The Details

Here are some of the key details in the deal:

  • ABC or ESPN will have four of the next seven Stanley Cup Finals
  • The network family will air one conference final each year of the deal
  • 25 regular season games will be broadcast on ABC or ESPN
  • ESPN+ will now stream more than 1,100 games (merging with NHLTV)
  • ESPN+/Hulu will exclusviley stream 75 national games each year

As a result, the Disney bundle will increase in price, with a $13.99 per month subscription for the ad supported version. If you prefer an ad-free experience, the bundle is available for $19.99 per month ad-free.

The new deal is truly a futuristic approach to sports consumption. Jimmy Pataro, ESPN’s Chairman believes this deal “clearly underscores The Walt Disney Company’s leadership in the sports media landscape and serves as a blueprint for sports deals in the future.”

Analysis

In agreement with Pataro, this deal is truly revolutionary for sports consumption around the world. Classic TV deals, such as those in place for the NFL, MLB, and NBA, focus on hosting games on a variety of television networks. All of those leagues require separate subscriptions for league-wide viewing. The NHL is taking it a step further, encouraging the shift to streaming more so than basic cable television.

As more and more streaming services continue to pop up, such as Paramount+, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, and so on, the emphasis on streaming versus traditional cable will only climb. When the other major leagues are scrambling to enter this space on a regular basis, the NHL will already comfortably be partnered with arguably the best partner available.

Disney has revolutionized the streaming world, and this deal with the NHL will only add to that impressive distinction. The NHL will be the first sport to rely on streaming, potentially skyrocketing the sport’s exposure and revenue. This means players will make more money, and the salary cap should continue to climb in the coming seasons. This deal can take the NHL to new heights.


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Work as an accountant by day. Huge Chicago sports fan. Played college football and only wish I could skate well enough to play hockey. Twitter: @rnldluce Instagram: @rnldluce

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