SBD/December 8, 2010/Sports Media

Storming The Net: NHL Looking To Score Big On New TV Deals

NHL's TV Contracts With NBC, Versus Expire At End Of Season

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "believes the league is poised to become a major player in the North American media market," according to Steve Keating of REUTERS. With talks on a new TV deal underway, the NHL is "looking for something more substantial than its revenue-splitting arrangement with NBC, which expires at the end of the season." The league also could "profit from a bidding war for its U.S. cable rights, currently held by Versus, if ESPN and Fox enter into the competition." Bettman yesterday said, "We're in a good place. There's more interest in us than there has ever been." Keating noted the Winter Classic outdoor game is a "ratings mega-hit for the NHL," and this season's Capitals-Penguins game at Heinz Field is "sure to attract even more interest with the help" of HBO's "24/7" mini-series that will follow the teams leading up to the New Year's Day contest (REUTERS, 12/7). Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke said, "We think we have a great story to tell to anyone who's interested in our rights. The game itself and the ratings, it's a very positive story" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/8). Bettman said, "In the final analysis, Versus and NBC have been terrific partners and over the last 5½ years I don't think anybody could've been a better partner and given us better promotion and scheduling for what we need" (AP, 12/7).

TECHNICAL DETAILS: The NHL has struck a multiyear deal with Cisco that includes installation of six-figure TelePresence units into the league offices in Manhattan, Montreal and Toronto. Cisco also will produce Flip video cameras branded with logos from all 30 teams. “In terms of doing business and not traveling as much, (TelePresence technology) is terrific,” Bettman said. “I’m hoping Bill Daly and myself can do more business this way than having to get on a plane” (Fred Dreier, SportsBusiness Journal).

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