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A Look At The Future Of The NHL TV Contract

Yesterday I asked Richard Deitsch of The Athletic a question.  He answered today in a sports media post,

What’s the next TV and streaming contract going to look like for the NHL? – Kukla’s Korner, Detroit

We still have a bit to go until crunch time. The NBC deal with the NHL expires after the 2020-21 season. One thing is clear: The average annual value ($200 million) is going up. Personally, I can’t see NBC not retaining a big chunk of the NHL rights given the importance of the programming to NBCSN as well as some ancillary factors ( e.g. Olympic hockey). Could we see a split package between NBC and a digital outlet? I could see that. Maybe ESPN+ and NBC share some costs in a much smaller manner to the CBS/Turner deal for the NCAAs. One thing that the rightsholders will be looking at is the graying of NHL viewers as noted by this terrific piece last year in Sports Business Daily. I don’t see NBC going for baseball.

many more sports related media questions (paid subscription)

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Comments

Avatar

I would love to give them my opinion on the matter.

If a fan purchases the NHL TV package:

1, remove blackouts.  The idea behind blackouts is crazy. 
2, regardless of what network is carrying the game, if you purchase the package you should be able to watch the game.  For example, if NHL Network picks up the game, you should still get to see the game if you bought the package.
3, create a playoff package.  If playoff hockey is not part of the NHL TV package, create another package that allows fans to watch the damn playoffs.  Requiring fans to purchase USA network or whatever other obscure channel in order to watch their team play a hockey game is nuts.  Just create a damn package and let us buy it for the playoffs.


What has happened with fans now is people are buying VPN’s to mask their location to get around blackouts, people are going to reddit to get illegal streams because they dont have or dont want to purchase CNBC etc for a month.

Just look at the channels that you had to have to watch playoff hockey last year:
NBC
NBCSN
CNBC
NHLN
USA


5 channels for playoff hockey!!!


Regular season is not better.  The sad part is fans dont mind paying to watch hockey, but when you make it this damn difficult to watch it hurts the game.  I live over 3 hours away from the Hurricanes, but I can not watch a Penguins/Hurricanes regular season game even after I purchased the NHL TV package.  Why?  Because I have to pay the TV provider to have fox sports Carolina.  Ugh!  Another channel. And this is after I payed the NHL for the package. 

Lastly… just a note on devices.  Can you please start working on getting apps for smart tv’s?  Not all of us want to buy an apple tv or Roku.  We have a Samsung tv or Sony Tv.  can you just work on the apps for these?

 

 

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 07/11/18 at 09:29 AM ET

Tripwire32's avatar

I think it’s pretty telling how not in-demand the nhl is due the inability to sell differing packages to multiple US networks. It appears they’re happy just to have a network that’s willing to nationally broadcast besides their own, and will bend over backwards so as to not lose the little interest there is.

Posted by Tripwire32 from Kay He Mar Heart on 07/11/18 at 10:17 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Last January we switched from a traditional cable package to Hulu Live.  We lost exactly one channel we ever used to watch stuff in the switch, but cut our monthly bill in half.  The channel we lost though that our family used was access to local NBC—Hulu does not carry NBC or I think FOX here locally.

We also lost NHL Network, but I was the only one that ever watched that.

I get NBC Sports and FSD.  But like with the Olympics or NHL Playoffs, if a game or event was on NBC proper, we had no way to watch it.

I would pay for NHL.tv, I would.  But to do so I need a guarantee that I get EVERY SINGLE NHL BROADCAST.  PERIOD.  No blackouts.  No restrictions on outlets, and they need to have both HOME and AWAY feeds available for every game, because this isn’t “AA” hockey or something rinkey-dink.  You’re the ****ing league that holds the rights.  Make it happen.

The league also needs to work out deals with providers like Hulu that make sense.  You advertise “Every NHL Playoff game”, so you need to ACTUALLY DELIVER EVERY NHL PLAYOFF GAME, not say “Oh, well, you don’t get local NBC so, that doesn’t apply for you”.  The NHL looked really stupid in that instance for allowing that to happen.

Basically, just stop being clowns about your rights and making your customers the enemy.

Posted by Primis on 07/11/18 at 11:41 AM ET

Avatar

The problem is that the NHL sells regional rights to 31 different affiliates and therefore they don’t own the rights that would be needed to have every game available and to reduce/eliminate blackouts.

On top of that, getting those rights could be a long and messy process because the league doesn’t likely have all regional rights expiring at the same time. It’s probably going to be a piecemeal process, getting all those rights back so that they can provide a better experience for NHL.TV users.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 07/11/18 at 12:19 PM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

I live in the Bay Area*—which is a hockey market, even tho Sharkie plays 90 min away—and the Comcast CenterIce package has exactly one (1) HD channel for the games they broadcast, AND share those channels with the NBA package. So if you’re lucky you get 1 game in HD a night, in the tech capital of the world.

And NBC shows playoff games on the Golf Channel. Golf. I’m sure that was mostly a big F YOU to the NHL for bailing on the Olympics, but it was really really stupid of the league to ever let that happen.

Doesn’t help that the Wings are terrible, but I’ll be damned if I’m paying ~$200 to watch games in SD. May as well stream them for similar picture quality.

*but will not by next season, so hoping whatever provider I pick up will have something better.

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 07/11/18 at 12:48 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

The NHL is small enough that is has the opportunity to actually do something productive here and capitalize on the streaming market.  The problem is, they aren’t really “nimble” enough, or willing it seems. 

Everyone knows more and more people are cutting the cord and streaming more and more.  Heck, even my parents (thirty some years older than me) are streaming all their programming! 

The thing is, the NHL could get in the streaming game now (still relatively early) and do it right while still capturing customers.  But I’m afraid they will continue to do nothing at all.  This means more and more people will be illegally streaming their NHL games.  Especially when it’s fairly easy to wirelessly connect your laptop to your tv and stream an HD game…at least that’s what I hear wink 

I bought the NHL package about 8 years ago, and every year I think about it.  But I just won’t do it again.  If I want to watch a game, I find a way to do it without paying $150 or whatever.

Posted by TreKronor on 07/11/18 at 12:55 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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