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SBD/April 14, 2011/Media
Will NBA, NFL Labor Unrest Help NHL Score Lucrative New TV Rights Deal?
Published April 14, 2011
NHL TO SCORE IN NEW DEAL: In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, John Ourand cites sources as saying that the NHL is "poised to sign its biggest media rights deal within the next two months, as the presence of three bidders" in ESPN, NBC/Versus and Turner is "pushing the annual rights fee above" $200M. Fox, "which had early talks with the NHL, is not believed to be in the running to pick up the rights." But the "presence of three bidders will help to push the league's rights fee well beyond the $77.5 million per year that Versus now pays." Ourand writes the "most intriguing potential bid comes from Turner, which is looking to add sports to its truTV lineup." The net "was a big part of Turner's NCAA tournament coverage, and Turner executives were happy with the channel's performance" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/11 issue).
SPRING MADNESS? The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin reported the NHL as part of its U.S. TV negotiations "wanted to present the postseason as the NCAA does its basketball March Madness, which is over within three weeks." Packaging a "leaner schedule is seen as a real bonus in the U.S." Dowbiggin: "It's no secret that the first two rounds of the playoffs are the best, and that momentum flags by week six. The problem is that four seven-game series in three time zones are hard to compress" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 4/13).
SHINY ICE: The NHL is on pace to set several business records and milestones this season. All North American TV partners experienced viewership increases, and 17 of the 30 teams' RSNs saw ratings increases or were even with season. The league also is on pace for its fifth consecutive year of record revenue and is projected to bring in more than $2.9B by the end of the playoffs. NHL Enterprises' revenue is projected to increase by 14.8% and will set a new best, while sponsorship sales set an all-time record with gross sales increasing by 33% (NHL).