SBD/February 2, 2011/Media

Comcast-NBCU Merger Complicates NHL's TV Negotiations

The exclusive negotiating period between the NHL and Versus for cable TV rights in the U.S. ended Monday, but it "does not mean the end to their relationship" since the window "closed amid a host of changes at the network," according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. An NHL exec said the relationships between the league and its U.S. broadcasters, Versus and NBC, are "complicated" now, with both networks owned by the same company. NBC has its "own window for exclusive negotiations with the NHL, and those talks are believed to be under way." Still, Shoalts notes despite the "upheaval at its television networks, the NHL can expect an increase from the $75-million it receives annually in its current contract with Versus and in the revenue-sharing deal it has with NBC." NHL ratings in the U.S. "are growing and two of its signature events posted healthy gains last month." The Jan. 1 Capitals-Penguins Bridgestone Winter Classic attracted 4.56 million viewers on NBC, giving the network the "best ratings on the night" in the 18-49 demo. Similarly, Versus drew 1.48 million viewers for Sunday's All-Star Game, up 36.2% from the last event in '09 (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/2).
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