When NBC’s NHL television deal expired, the network decided against trying to renew it. That made the NHL free agents to network television. Last month, the NHL reached a seven-year deal with the Walt Disney Company and ESPN to be their primary broadcast partner. However, the NHL still needed a secondary provider. On Tuesday, the NHL and Turner Sports announced a seven-year deal, that will bring the NHL to Turner.
Next season will mark the first year since the 2005-06 season that NBC will not be carrying NHL games. Hockey was already a lot different this past season with Doc Emrick retiring from his lead play-by-play role with NBC. The landscape will now change even more drastically, and hockey is likely to sound a lot different as ESPN, TNT, and TBS will likely bring new faces and voices into their hockey broadcasts.
In the new deals, ESPN will broadcast four of the next seven Stanley Cup Final series, while TNT will broadcast the other three. However, TNT will have the rights to every Winter Classic game, which is routinely played on New Year’s Day. TNT and ESPN will split the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 72 regular-season games will air on TNT.
Reports indicate that TNT will pay in the neighborhood of $225 million per season over the next seven years as part of the agreement. Within that, TNT will offer live streaming and simulcast rights on HBO Max. Bleacher Report will also hold exclusive rights to all digital media and highlights of the NHL.
This can be considered a big win for the NHL, as they are now partners with two of the biggest television networks in the business. With this new influx of money, many will hope to see the NHL salary cap rise, as NHL players currently make significantly less on the top-end deals than those of the MLB, NBA, and NFL. Big changes are coming to a sport that probably needed them.