SBD/November 3, 2011/Media

NHL Signs International TV-Rights Deals Covering Europe, Africa

Two weeks after inking a $50M, multiyear TV-rights deal with Swedish company Modern Times Group to show its games live in Scandinavia, the NHL has finalized 10 smaller deals in Europe and Africa that allow distributors to show live games. The league finalized the deals with its European rights holders Medge Consulting and Advisers Media Int'l. The combined value of the deals was not available. “We’re not trying to be one size fits all for every country, but trying to focus very specifically on what will be interesting for each country,” said NHL Exec VP/Media Strategies & Distribution David Proper. The league has inked single-year deals with ESPN America (29 countries in Europe and Africa), Nova Sport (Czech Republic and Slovakia), and Premier Sports and Setanta Sports (U.K. and Ireland); three-year deals with Fox (Middle East including Turkey, Cyprus and Israel) and Sentanta and Zulu Sports (both Sub-Saharan Africa); and five-year deals with Sport TV (Portugal), Canal Plus Sports (France) and Canal Plus Sports (Monaco, Switzerland and other French-speaking territories). “The ability to get distribution into some of these markets is a reflection of the strength of the game and the aggressiveness the NHL has taken in promoting it outside of North America,” said former NHL Senior Exec VP/Club Business & Strategic Development Ed Horne. Proper said the league is currently working with each distributor to customize game packages based on national relevance. The new deals replace the old Pan-European TV agreement the league had with ESPN America from '05-11. That deal also included digital rights. While the league included digital rights with the MTG deal, it has withheld those rights in the 10 other deals. Proper said the league would continue to withhold digital rights in territories outside of the MTG deal to give fans access to more live programming. The NHL has yet to finalize a deal in Russia, which is one of the larger markets for the league. Proper declined to comment on that issue. Advisers Media Int'l Managing Dir Rob Pickles said via e-mail that the deal will be done shortly but declined to give any details or a time frame for the negotiations.
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