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Does the NHL have a lockout-paying TV deal with NBC? Yep, and it was first reported last December

Via both Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski and Sportsline’s Brian Stubits, player agent Allan Walsh fired of the following Tweets earlier today…

But the man in charge remembered a post he made on December 4th, 2011, and as it turns out, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported this in December. It’s a great reminder of how things break down from Walsh, but here’s Brooks’ explanation as well—which was tinged with what we thought was conspiracy theory back then, and now makes a whole lot more sense:

Of all the contracts signed this summer, the 10-year, $2 billion deal the NHL gave to Comcast/NBC is the most curious. Unless, that is, you’re Comcast/NBC/Ed Snider/the Flyers. Yes, even more curious than the three-year, $12.75 million deal the Hurricanes gave to Tomas Kaberle. Unless, that is, you’re Kaberle.

Back but to the point at hand: There may be every good reason for the league to be on NBC and NBC/Versus, which is giving the sport major league status, rather than on ESPN, which never did and likely never would.

But for the NHL to have essentially made an inside deal that lasts for a decade in which there are no triggers, no escalators, no options, no out-clauses, regardless of the ratings or other potential opportunities, is as short-sighted as it gets.

Unless, of course, the deal has something to do with the fact the NHL has full lockout protection for next season and will receive its $150 million or $155 million (the rights fee increases somewhere around 4-percent a year over the course of the deal) even if there isn’t a single game played.

There’s something slightly questionable, isn’t there, when the league strikes a deal favorable to Comcast/NBC when Comcast/NBC also controls the Flyers? What a coincidence that the Flyers happen to be in the Winter Classic for the second time in the last three years.

Again, this isn’t about the product or the energy and resources NBC is investing in promoting the league. One would assume, though, NBC would have put the same energy and resources into promoting the NHL if the contract were for five years and faced competition to retain the rights.

A bit inconsistent, it would seem, that the league is probably going to propose term limits of five years on contracts for players in the next collective bargaining agreement but runs off and locks itself (and the players) into a 10-year TV deal.

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gowings's avatar

Ok, wait a minute. Now, English is not my first language, but is this contract saying that NBC will pay the league even if there is a lockout AND HAS NO “OUT CLAUSE”? So…NBC HAS to stick with that NHL deal NO MATTER WHAT? NBC could not for example just walk away after 2 years if they are not happy? I must read that wrong….no “escape clause” for NBC???

Posted by gowings from MTL on 08/22/12 at 04:40 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Yes, that’s correct.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/22/12 at 05:02 PM ET

wolverine's avatar

So, in essence, the NHL is losing $200 million because year 11 of the deal would be for free for NBC.  Buy 10 years and get one free (if there’s a lockout).

Posted by wolverine on 08/22/12 at 05:07 PM ET


This is a perfect example of why a person that owns a media outlet should not be allowed to own a hockey franchise.

Comcast (ed snider) basically paid the NHL bribe money.  Now I understand why NBC and NBCSC show mostly Eastern Conference games and ignore the west whenever they can.

This is worse than placing a franchise in Las Vegas and worrying about the gambling aspect.

Yet another way for Bettman to screw the fans and line his pockets.

The Evil Troll must be fired.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax on 08/22/12 at 05:08 PM ET

gowings's avatar

Wow, thank you George….I just wanted to make sure I did not miss anything in the translation…but now that I understand, I can assure you that translating it in French still makes it look ...ridiculous and outrageous! Oh boy, the RDS website just published an article, by Renaud Lavoie, and they clearly did not read this information :
” NBC est prête à attendre quelques mois pour que le dossier se règle, mais n’acceptera jamais que la saison soit annulée.D’abord parce qu’elle a une nouvelle chaîne NBC Sports qui a un contenu qui est basé en grande partie sur la LNH.”

Well then, I guess NBC would be ready for a lockout since that is included in their ridiculous contract….

Posted by gowings from MTL on 08/22/12 at 05:20 PM ET


Does the lockout money become part of HRR for year 11 in the “next” CBA or does the NHL state that in eleven years they will have lost $200 million in revenue from the previous year?

If that is how they will calculate HRR and I were the NHL, I would ask to be paid up front during lockout years for all of my deals. That is revenue I would never have to share.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 08/22/12 at 05:46 PM ET

YzermanZetterberg's avatar

Didn’t the NFL have a similar clause in its TV contract that was ruled illegal during their lockout last year? It seems that a judge said the NFL setting up a war chest/slush fund was an unfair bargaining tactic.

Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 08/22/12 at 06:21 PM ET


This is a perfect example of why a person that owns a media outlet should not be allowed to own a hockey franchise.

Comcast (ed snider) basically paid the NHL bribe money.  Now I understand why NBC and NBCSC show mostly Eastern Conference games and ignore the west whenever they can.

stop connecting snider to this madness. yes, he did tell bettman to leave espn for vs. Snider doesnt care. Snider makes his money off the parking revenues and xfinity live in south philly these days. NBC started the NBC sports channel because they were told to do it by NFL to prop up NFL product. do see why CBS and FOX are investing in their cable networks?

Posted by FlyersFan on 08/22/12 at 07:21 PM ET

Denver Wings's avatar

I understand the value of $200 million to the NHL if the players get locked out for the entire 2012-13 season, but how exactly does that payment translate into assistance to the individual franchises, especially the Phoenixes and Columbuses of the world that are supposedly already in such dire financial straits?  Don’t those franchises need gate receipts in order to stay afloat (or at least to continue bailing at a greater-than-fatal rate)?  Even with the lower payrolls in the $40-50 million range, $200 million doesn’t sound like a whole lot once you think about splitting it 30 different ways.  Obviously the franchises’ operating budgets get dramatically slashed for the year - as there’s no “hockey operations” to speak of - but I would assume their are still other licensing, lease, vendor agreements that need to be honored by the individual teams.

How will this work?  Anyone know?

Posted by Denver Wings on 08/22/12 at 09:03 PM ET


All the whining and crying because the NHL basically got lockout insurance.  It is called planning and it is a good reason why the players need to realize that they either start negotiating like the NFL and NBA or get locked out.

Posted by timbits on 08/22/12 at 11:57 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.

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