SBD/February 12, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHL Commish Gary Bettman Discusses Media Rights, Outdoor Games In Q&A

Bettman said practically every NHL team is currently vying for an outdoor game
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman recently sat down for a Q&A with SPORTSNET’s Luke Fox, with topics including the league’s 12-year media rights deal with Rogers as well as future outdoor games. Below are excerpts from the Q&A. 

Q: Most of the discussion surrounding the 12-year Rogers-NHL deal has focused on the television broadcast. What are your online plans for the next few years?
Bettman: Online has become and will become even more important than it’s been. Millions are consuming their video content online as opposed to watching traditional television. We’re going to see as the devices continue to evolve -- and there are devices going to be created that we don’t even know about yet -- people, particularly young, tech-savvy people, are going to consume their media in a variety of different ways, and we’re going to make sure we’re responsive to what they want.

Q: Rogers has its own sites, and the league runs NHL.com. How do you balance the two, as both try to generate advertising revenue?
Bettman: I think we agree that the NHL.com site is the principle one to serve hockey fans. When it comes time to promote the content that Rogers has, there’s nothing wrong with being on multiple platforms.

Q: How many outdoor games can we expect next year?
Bettman: Don’t know yet. It’s not something we’ve focused on. We still have two more to go this season, after we come back from the Olympics, in Chicago and Vancouver, and then we’ll take a deep breath and figure it all out.

Q: How likely is it that Toronto hosts the 2017 Winter Classic, when MLSE president and CEO Tim Leiweke wants it?
Bettman: All teams are aiming for one. At this point, nobody has the edge over anyone else. It also depends on having a suitable facility, and at the current point in time, while I know Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has a vision for a bigger stadium, at the present time it doesn’t exist.

Q: I understand Coors, your headline Stadium Series sponsor, wants an outdoor game in Denver. Is that correct?
Bettman: Everyone wants one. And after we did one in L.A., that “everyone” extended to places you wouldn’t have thought of before.

Q: So when everyone wants one, how do you decide who gets one? Is venue the biggest factor?
Bettman: It’s based on a whole host of factors: the market, where the team is in terms of its competitiveness, the venue, where we’ve been and where we haven’t been. There’s not some magical formula that you pop in. Some of it has to do with timing and what makes the most sense (SPORTSNET.ca, 2/10).
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