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Volume 20 No. 42
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Tuning in: NHL media moves

CFCA carries the first NHL radio broadcast, with live transmission of the third period of an Ottawa Senators-Toronto St. Patricks game at Toronto’s Arena Gardens.

The Canadian National Railway radio network begins transmissions of the “General Motors Hockey Broadcast,” now called “Hockey Night in Canada.”

Live from Madison Square Garden, RCA’s W2XBS is the first network to televise an NHL game, a Montreal Canadiens-New York Rangers matchup.

CBC broadcasts the first NHL game to air live on television in Canada, a Canadiens-Detroit Red Wings matchup played at the Montreal Forum.

“Hockey Night in Canada” telecasts begin, when the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, then the only Canadian teams, and Molson Brewery (which owns the Canadiens) work out a rights agreement for nationwide telecasts. The four U.S.-based clubs are included (albeit for a considerably smaller payout), creating the first of the Trans Border Agreements.

CBS begins a three-year, $3.5 million deal to air NHL games in the U.S., the league’s first TV deal on this side of the border.

CBS’s coverage of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Canadiens and Chicago Black Hawks draws 12.41 million viewers and a 20.6 rating. The game remains the most-watched and highest-rated NHL game ever.

The league cobbles together a group of independent U.S.-based TV stations, covering approximately 55 percent of the country, and creates a network that is distributed by the Hughes Television Network. The Stanley Cup Final airs on the network, marking the first time that the championship series is nationally televised in its entirety in the U.S. The network disbands after the 1978-79 season.

Four former World Hockey Association teams — the Quebec Nordiques, New England Whalers, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets — join the NHL and are required to sign over their television rights to the Molson group for five years. The Carling O’Keefe Breweries-owned Nordiques receive no share of the media revenue.

The Trans Border media agreement is extended for two seasons, through 1983-84, giving Intermart’s Canadian Sports Network (CSN) the exclusive right to televise the NHL’s 14 U.S. clubs’ home games throughout Canada. CSN will pay the NHL at least $2.18 million each season.

In January, a committee representing the NHL’s 14 U.S. clubs enters into an agreement with Carling O’Keefe that grants the brewer the nonexclusive rights to broadcast U.S. home hockey games in Canada on CTV. On the same date, the NHL advises CSN and Molson Brewery, its principal NHL sponsor, that the league desired to negotiate a similar nonexclusive agreement with that group.

In December, 19 of the league’s 21 clubs sign a five-year agreement to pool and share broadcast revenue, ending what is still referred to as hockey’s “beer war.” The agreement involves all except Canada’s two oldest teams, the Canadiens and Maple Leafs, both of which have lucrative nationwide television contracts. The league said that for the first time since 1966, broadcast revenue would be pooled and shared “without regard to the U.S.-Canada border.”

NBC televises the All-Star Game, the league’s first time on network television in nearly a decade. NBC airs the next four All-Star Games.

EA Sports debuts “NHL Hockey 1991,” available on the Sega Genesis system, featuring the Los Angeles Kings’ Glenn Healy on the cover.

1996 launches. The league owns 84.4 percent and NBC Sports Group owns the rest.

“NHL in HD” launches on the Mark Cuban-owned HDNet, with a Phoenix Coyotes-L.A. Kings matchup.

Comcast (whose subsidiary Comcast-Spectacor owns the Philadelphia Flyers) agrees to pay $207.5 million over three years to put games on its OLN station, which is renamed Versus in 2006.

XM Satellite Radio signs a 10-year, $100 million deal to become the league’s exclusive satellite radio broadcast partner beginning in 2007.

NHL Network launches.

Distribution of NHL Network begins on AT&T U-verse. In October 2011, AT&T drops the network due to a dispute over a planned increase in retransmission payments.

NBC and Versus (soon to be NBCSN) agree to a 10-year, $2 billion media rights deal, through the 2020-21 season.

Canadian broadcaster Rogers Communications signs the biggest media rights deal in the history of Canadian television, committing $5.2 billion (Canadian) through the 2024-25 season, beginning in 2014.

Real-time HD footage of the skills competitions during the NHL All-Star Weekend is provided by players wearing GoPro cameras, as part of the new partnership with the camera company. It’s GoPro’s first time sponsoring a major sports league.

The NHL and Major League Baseball Advanced Media announce a six-year media rights partnership. MLBAM and MLB’s overall media division will operate the NHL’s digital operations, streaming services and NHL Network. The deal is valued at more than $1.2 billion and gives the NHL a 7 to 10 percent equity stake in MLBAM.

SiriusXM Radio and SiriusXM Radio Canada extend their North American rights deal with the NHL through the 2021-22 season.

In October, the live-stream of the Rangers-Blackhawks season opener delivers 3.7 million live minutes on It still ranks as that medium’s most-viewed NHL regular-season game.

NeuLion partners with the NHL’s digital properties, including NHL GameCenter Live. The value for the 2015-16 NHL season is in excess of $11 million. The company will receive $4 million over the next four seasons for consulting services.

MLBAM reaches a deal with TuneIn, an online audio streaming network, to carry live domestic, international and foreign-language feeds of NHL play-by-play coverage, free to its users. That includes all 1,230 regular-season games as well as the playoffs and Stanley Cup.

Yahoo agrees to stream four live NHL games a week that will be in addition to the games Yahoo streams through its deal with NBC Sports Group. Financial terms of the deal are not disclosed.

NBC Sports Radio gains rights to broadcast and syndicate the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, the NHL’s first league-level national playoff terrestrial radio broadcast since 2008.

The NHL agrees to allow Fox’s regional sports networks to stream NHL games in their local markets. Fox will make the live games available regionally to its subscribers.

Twitter signs a deal to live-stream one game every week.

NHL Network returns to AT&T U-verse after a five-year hiatus.

Source: SportsBusiness Journal research