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NHL Returns To ESPN After 16 Years Away

NHL Returns To ESPN After 16 Years Away

Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) and its ESPN subsidiary announced a seven-year partnership with the National Hockey League covering television, streaming and media rights.

What Happened: The new partnership begins with the 2021-22 season and runs through the 2027-28 season. This marks a return of the NHL to ESPN after the network was outbid by Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) subsidiary Outdoor Life Network in 2005, which ended ESPN’s 21-year relationship with the league.

The new partnership includes exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup Final on Disney’s ABC in four of the seven years of the agreement, along with the ability to simulcast/megacast on ESPN+ and additional ESPN networks. Half of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be broadcast on ABC and ESPN each season.

Why It Happened: The financial aspects of the new partnership were not publicly announced. Comcast’s NBC, the current NHL broadcast rights-holder, was paying $200 million a year to broadcast NHL games.

Outdoor Life Network, which outbid ESPN for the NHL, later morphed into Versus and then NBC Sports Network, but in January Comcast announced NBCSN would go off the air at the end of 2021.

See Also: Why The DraftKings CEO Expects More States To Legalize Sports Betting

More Details: Additionally, live broadcasts of NHL games will return to ESPN networks with 25 exclusive national regular-season games on ABC or ESPN.

The partnership also includes 75 national regular-season games per season produced by ESPN that will stream exclusively on both ESPN+ and Hulu; half of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on ABC and ESPN each season, as well as annual coverage of NHL’s Face-off (opening night games), the NHL All-Star Game and Skills Challenge, and other NHL special events each season.

International media rights – including in Latin America, the Caribbean and parts of Europe – are also part of the agreement. Also, the NHL’s out-of-market streaming package, with more than 1,000 games that were formerly on NHL.TV will available for streaming as part of an ESPN+ subscription.

Photo courtesy NHL.


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