Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What Does the NHL's New TV Contract Mean?

First of all, the following may seem offensive to anyone who is affiliated with NBC.  Well, it's not meant to.  There's no denying that ESPN is the be-all and end-all of sports in the United States, whether you want to believe that or not.  Look, I know they suck, but when someone wants to watch up on their sports news, they tune into SportsCenter.  Not MLB Tonight.  Not NFL Total Access.  Not NHL On the Fly.  Not whatever the hell they show on the NBA Channel or FSN Final Score or any of that.  They tune in to SportsCenter.  The following is my way of viewing the failure of the NHL in reaching a TV agreement with the Worldwide Leader in [All] Sports [Not Named Hockey].  So, let's take a look at the article found on ESPN.com about the deal and analyze what it means...or translate it into plain English.

The National Hockey League is remaining with NBC and its networks for at least the next 10 years as its U.S. media partners, the league and the network announced Tuesday.
  • Occasionally, you might see the Blackhawks or Capitals or Penguins on real, live, NBC on Sunday afternoons while NASCAR on FOX and poker on ESPN continue to rake in the big ratings.

The deal, which is reportedly worth $2 billion and extends through the 2020-21 season, includes exclusive rights for NBC's networks, including Versus, to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
  • They may say it's worth $2 billion, but that's only if NBC agrees to exercise a 50-year option in 2021. 

The Associated Press reported that all Stanley Cup playoff games will air on one of the NBC Sports Group's channels. It includes 100 regular-season games per season on NBC Sports Group networks, as well as a national NBC game on Thanksgiving Friday.
  • "One" means MSNBC or CNBC or one of those channels that nobody was able to find during the Vancouver Olympics.
  • Wait, did that say "national NBC game on Thanksgiving Friday?"  So...Black Friday?  319 million Americans will be stampeding into Wal-Mart and the few survivors will be watching hockey?  Got it.

The agreement also includes digital rights across all media platforms for games NBC Sports Group televises.
The NHL has aired on the two networks for the past six seasons.
  •  For the past six years, rednecks trying to watch fishing and hunting are forced to watch a couple hours of hockey...and Pierre McGuire's head.

NBC will continue to broadcast a national regular game of the week, as well as the Winter Classic. Versus -- which NBC Sports Group chairman Dick Ebersol hinted will soon be getting a new identity -- will also continue to broadcast a game of the week, as well as the league's annual All-Star Game and any future Heritage Classic outdoor games held in Canada.
  • Great, Outdoor Network, then Versus, then what?  ESPN Junior?
  • The NHL has an All-Star Game?  I thought they had that draft thing where Phil Kessel annually wins a car...
"This is the most significant U.S. media rights partnership in the league's history," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.
  • "I didn't know America had media...that would be willing to actually televise hockey games.  That makes this [more] significant."

ESPN, which previously carried NHL games, also sought the league's broadcast and media rights. Turner and Fox Sports were also interested.
  • Back in the old days, ESPN used to air hockey games...well, air ice hockey games.
  • Turner expressed interest in the NHL as a backup, backup, backup emergency plan in case the NBA locks out and NCAA Lacrosse and Swimming didn't work out.

"We had constructive conversations with the NHL and wish the league continued success," ESPN said in a statement.
  •  "We'll talk to the guys at SportsCenter and give the NHL a special 2-minute segment all about hockey.  Weekly."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
  • Umm, actually that's just a disclaimer saying that ESPN stole the article from The Associated Press and changed a few words to get away with it.
So, umm, who needs ESPN anyway?!