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NHL & NBC Schedule Major Announcement For Today

NEW YORK (April 19, 2011) – The National Hockey League and the NBC Sports Group will make a major announcement on a media conference call TODAY at 1 p.m. ET. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Sports Group will participate along with additional NHL and NBC Sports Group executives.

WHO:      Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner
Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Sports Group
Additional NHL and NBC Sports Group executives

WHAT
:      Major Announcement

WHEN:      TODAY at 1 p.m. ET

added 11:01am, from Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail,

Estimates are that the league will make $220-million (U.S.) per year over the course of the decade-long deal. The previous agreement saw NBC and the NHL splitting profits on their network package with no rights fee to the league. The deal also represents the first time the NHL has renewed its U.S. network TV contract with the same network since the 1960s. It marks a triumph for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who spurned ESPN after the 2004-‘05 lockout and has stuck with NBC and Comcast (whose chairman Ed Snider owns the Philadelphia Flyers) despite criticism of the household reach of Versus, their hockey channel.

In turn, NBC/ Comcast is promising to make over hockey as its prime sports tenant on Versus (soon to be NBC Sports Channel) and a significant force on the main network. Sources tell the Globe & Mail that the broadcaster and the league are looking to create a “March Madness” style promotion of the playoffs on both NBC and its news sports cable channel. The anticipated loss of one or two U.S. franchises to Canada does not appear to have been an impediment to the contract.

more

Update 2:08pm ET: News release from the NHL.
Update 2:40pm ET: Complete Details below—


NHL & NBC Sports Group Announce New 10-Year Partnership
Agreement Calls for All Stanley Cup Playoffs Games to be Televised Nationally; Introduces National Thanksgiving Friday Telecast on NBC

NBC & VERSUS to Televise 100 Regular Season Games Per Season

    NEW YORK (April 19, 2011) – The National Hockey League and the NBC Sports Group have reached agreement on a landmark 10-year television and media rights deal, taking the partnership through the 2020-21 season. The expanded partnership, under which NBC remains the exclusive network home and VERSUS the exclusive cable home of the NHL® in the U.S., is highlighted by the first-ever national distribution of all Stanley Cup® Playoffs contests, including, for the first time, exclusive coverage starting with the Conference Semifinals. The agreement also calls for the NBC Sports Group to televise 100 regular season games per year and introduces a national NBC broadcast on Thanksgiving Friday.  The announcement was made today by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Sports Group.

    According to the agreement, the NBC Sports Group obtains digital rights across all platforms and devices for the games it televises.. In the regular season, NBC will continue to broadcast a national “Game of the Week,” along with its coverage of the NHL Winter Classic® and “Hockey Day in America.” VERSUS also will telecast an exclusive national “Game of the Week,” as well as NHL Premiere™ Games, NHL Faceoff™, the NHL All-Star Game and any future NHL Heritage Classic™ outdoor games in Canada.  NBC and VERSUS remain the exclusive home of the Stanley Cup Final.  The NBC Sports Group’s commitment includes building a new studio for NHL Network™ at its existing facility Stamford, Conn.  “This is the most significant U.S. media rights partnership in the League’s history,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “NBC Universal / Comcast is one of the most important, connected and ‘wired’ media companies in the U.S., and as the potential of the NBC Sports Group is realized, the importance of our relationship will become more apparent to hockey fans and our business partners.

    “NBC Sports and Comcast have been fantastic partners. They have provided incredible coverage of our sport and have teamed with us to deliver the best TV viewership figures in three decades. It is a credit to our players, our great game and our outstanding fans that Brian Roberts, Steve Burke, Dick Ebersol and their teams would make a commitment of this scale. We also know the best is yet to come.”

    “We have significantly increased the value of the NBC Sports Group with this unprecedented, 10-year agreement with the National Hockey League,” said Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Sports Group.  “What’s particularly exciting for us is not only the significant increase in regular season games, but the reality of a dream that every single playoff game will air on an NBC Sports Group platform. For the first time, the Conference Semifinal round will be exclusive on VERSUS with a 200 percent increase in games. In the regular season, we’re increasing VERSUS’ coverage from roughly 50 to 90 games.

    “I cannot understate the importance of Gary Bettman’s leadership. He understands the scope and the promotional ability of not only our new NBC Sports Group, but of the new NBCUniversal under Comcast’s ownership. The NHL has been and will continue to be one of our cornerstone properties.”

    The NHL’s partnerships with both NBC Sports and VERSUS launched for the 2005-06 season and the six-year relationship has produced many ratings milestones. Among them:

·              Overall NHL television ratings in the United States have increased by 84 percent over the last four years

·              The 2011 NHL Winter Classic on NBC was the most-watched regular season game in the U.S. in 36 years

·              VERSUS’ 2011 regular season viewership was the network’s best ever, up 17 percent over last season

·              The 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs saw the largest audience in the history of the sport, with Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on NBC the most-watched NHL game in the U.S. in 36 years

·              The 2010 Playoffs on VERSUS were the most watched on U.S. cable in eight years, while the first two rounds were the most watched on cable on record.

·              Just last week, VERSUS achieved its best opening night viewership in its six years of Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage

   

    The agreement between the NHL and the NBC Sports Group includes targeted promotion across the combined Comcast/NBCUniversal company which, since the merger, consists of 20 television networks and more than 40 digital platforms. VERSUS, which was in 64 million homes in 2005, is now in more than 79 million homes and is on course for further expansion of its distribution. The combined promotional muscle has already led to increased ratings for events such as the NHL Winter Classic, NHL Heritage Classic and Hockey Day in America.

    Over the last five years, the NHL has grown TV ratings, substantially increased sponsorship and advertising revenue through partnerships with blue chip companies, built a robust digital business and created a year-round calendar of big events including the NHL Winter Classic, all while receiving numerous industry awards and media accolades. The League for the 2010-11 season is on pace to once again set a record for total revenue despite the challenging economy, surpassing $2.9 billion overall.

Filed in: NHL Media, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nbc

Comments

Avatar

Is it the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window?  Oops, never mind you said major announcement, not major award.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 04/19/11 at 12:08 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

That sucks.  I was really hoping they’d leave this network.  Anybody who asks the cup finals to host b2b games to accomodate its late night show needs to be scratched off the list.

More Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury to go with it all.  This really sucks.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 04/19/11 at 12:09 PM ET

42jeff's avatar

wonderful.

Little Gary gets to put another imaginary feather in his little elf cap.  Five more years of Vers-ass.

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 04/19/11 at 12:10 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

If the goal is to grow the game - - then not going to ESPN was a stupid frigging ego-centric driven mistake.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 04/19/11 at 12:16 PM ET

Wings_in_NYC's avatar

I heard the announcement is that NBC won’t carry any more playoff games because Crosby isn’t playing.

I saw Milbury last night on CBC and for the life of me I can’t understand how this guy has the job that he does. Same goes for Pierre. It seems a majority of fans don’t have very much respect for these clowns yet they keep climbing up the rungs.

Posted by Wings_in_NYC on 04/19/11 at 12:22 PM ET

Primis's avatar

If the goal is to grow the game - - then not going to ESPN was a stupid frigging ego-centric driven mistake.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 04/19/11 at 10:16 AM ET

If ESPN wasn’t willing to sacrifice NBA for it, then I disagree whole-heartedly.

Posted by Primis on 04/19/11 at 12:24 PM ET

Pharazon's avatar

a lot of you are seriously over estimating ESPN…

seriously, it SUCKS

Posted by Pharazon from England on 04/19/11 at 12:32 PM ET

Avatar

seriously, it SUCKS

I wouldn’t go that far, but the real question is why do we fans want the game to go more mainstream?  I actually enjoy the fact that it is not as commercialized as the NFL or NBA.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 04/19/11 at 12:34 PM ET

phillyd's avatar

I agree with Primis. ESPN at the time was all about Poker ans was going to relegate the NHL to ESPN2 or lower programming. Now, Poker is on ever single channel and its ratings have dropped so they want the NHL back. The NHL is doing the right thing by growing the game with those that took the risk with them post-lockout. I do think, at some point, they’ll do a double-contract like the NBA has with ABC/ESPN and TNT.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 04/19/11 at 12:34 PM ET

Ajax19's avatar

I have no real problem with the NBC/Versus coverage of the NHL.  It’s not perfect and they could still refine some things, but with ESPN carrying baseball, basketball, football and college football, I think the NHL would get squeezed out time and time again on that network.

What NHL luminaries are over at ESPN that would be such a huge improvement over what Versus/NBC offer?  Barry Melrose and Matthew Barnaby?  Riiiight.

Hopefully, the NHL will work out a more favorable deal (unlikely). 

But, I just think ESPN’s docket is too crowded.  Even if ESPN did have the NHL, it would still be treated as the red headed step child far too often.  It would definitely get more exposure on the networks than it does not (that bar is low), but it would still be paltry. 

Also, ESPN has really gone down the tubes ever since around 2004 or so.  Unless there is college footbal or NFL football on, I never watch any of their networks.  Sportscenter has become and over produced bore of a show.  If I want NFL news/highlights, I will turn on the NFL Network.  If I want NHL highlights/news, I turn to the NHL network.

As for “growing” the sport.  Let’s face it, fellas.  It’s a niche sport.  It’s a wonderful, fantastic niche sport, but I am not sure how much more it can grow.  Look at what’s happening in Phoenix and Atlanta.  Those were both efforts to “grow” the sport in the US.  So long as the NHL can continue to function as it is and there are enough revenues, I am quite content to have the sport be the wonderful, little niche sport that it is.  Move Phoenix back to Winnipeg.  Put Atlanta in Hamilton and lets move on.

Posted by Ajax19 on 04/19/11 at 12:38 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Maybe NBC will now look to CBC or TSN and grab a few hockey knowledgeable people, behind the scenes folks. Producer, director, etc.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 04/19/11 at 12:40 PM ET

Avatar

Maybe NBC will now look to CBC or TSN and grab a few hockey knowledgeable people, behind the scenes folks. Producer, director, etc.

Who was the old ESPN play-by-play?  Was it Bill Clement?

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 04/19/11 at 12:41 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I wouldn’t go that far, but the real question is why do we fans want the game to go more mainstream?  I actually enjoy the fact that it is not as commercialized as the NFL or NBA.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 04/19/11 at 10:34 AM ET

Agree completely.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/19/11 at 12:42 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Who was the old ESPN play-by-play? Was it Bill Clement?

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 04/19/11 at 10:41 AM ET

Gary Thorn.  Clement did color.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 04/19/11 at 12:43 PM ET

Primis's avatar

But, I just think ESPN’s docket is too crowded.
Posted by Ajax19 on 04/19/11 at 10:38 AM ET

Spot on.

ESPN currently has rights to NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NCAAF, NCAAMB, NCAAWB, WNBA, some UEFA… where is the NHL supposed to fit in there?

ESPN hitched their wagon to MLS and the NBA, and now they’ll have to live with that decision.

Posted by Primis on 04/19/11 at 12:45 PM ET

hiero4life's avatar

Gary Thorne was an espn play by play.  Hate almost all the people vs and nbc use.

Posted by hiero4life from anywhere i am on 04/19/11 at 12:46 PM ET

Avatar

Gary Thorn.  Clement did color.

I would not mind if they brought back those guys.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 04/19/11 at 12:49 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Gary Thorne was an espn play by play.  Hate almost all the people vs and nbc use.

Posted by hiero4life on 04/19/11 at 10:46 AM ET

They’re actually slowly fixing the PBP/Color guys now that NBC is involved.

Who would you rather see though?

Posted by Primis on 04/19/11 at 12:49 PM ET

Ajax19's avatar

I really like Gary Thorne.  It was good to hear him call hockey again during the Frozen Four.

While Edzo has begun to wear a bit thin on me:  “active sticks!”  “take away time and space!” “activate the defense!”, I still really like Doc Emmerick.

Speaking of play-by-play guys, I know Bob Cole has lost a step, or two or three over the years, but I still love listening to him call a game.  I loved listening to him during the third period between Montreal and Boston last night was fantastic.

Posted by Ajax19 on 04/19/11 at 12:54 PM ET

Kevin182's avatar

Wonder if they are going to change the name from Versus to NBC Sports..


PS. GO WINGS!!!!

Posted by Kevin182 from Motor City, MI on 04/19/11 at 01:04 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

I actually enjoy the fact that it is not as commercialized as the NFL or NBA.
Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 04/19/11 at 10:34 AM ET

Totally agree.

My first preference is to see the league on the network that actually cares about the game, I’m not sure that NBC has ever seen it that way.

Somebody else on here mentioned that some affiliated network deals would be cool, a la NBA with ESPN and TNT. 

I think that’s a great idea, some added competition from a bigger stakeholder than what Vs is currently might force NBC to do a better job with its coverage.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 04/19/11 at 01:04 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Added some additional information to the blog if you are following along.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 04/19/11 at 01:05 PM ET

Kevin182's avatar

Wow as soon as I posted this, new update. For me, FAIL.

Posted by Kevin182 from Motor City, MI on 04/19/11 at 01:05 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I believe all this money is not part of revenue sharing.

All the money goes in the pocket of the owner.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 04/19/11 at 01:07 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I believe all this money is not part of revenue sharing.

All the money goes in the pocket of the owner.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 04/19/11 at 11:07 AM ET

Article 49.5 of the CBA (PLAYER COMPENSATION COST REDISTRIBUTION SYSTEM)

49.5 Sources of Funding for Player Compensation Cost Redistribution.

(a) Funding From Centrally Generated League Revenues. The first source
of funding, if applicable, shall be from centrally generated League revenues. To the
extent central League revenues (e.g., NHL Broadcast revenues, net revenues generated by
NHL Enterprises, etc.) increase to a level of $300 million or more on account of any
League Year, the League shall be entitled to use up to fifty (50) percent of such centrally
generated revenue dollars in excess of $300 million to fund up to twenty-five (25) percent
of the League’s Player Compensation Cost Redistribution commitment for that League
Year (such amounts to be taken equally from each Club’s 1/30th share of such revenues).


Blah blah mumbo jumbo.

Bottom line is that with $220 Million per year coming in television revenues solely from this deal, the overall league revenues should crack the $300M threshold and actually pay a little bit into the revenue-sharing system.  This should help alleviate a bit of the Escrow problem.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/19/11 at 01:15 PM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

All the money goes in the pocket of the owner.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 04/19/11 at 11:07 AM ET

No wonder Pete Karmanos was so excited about this pending news a few weeks ago when he called into the local sports radio show on the commute home. 

That’s a huge boon for the owners.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 04/19/11 at 01:17 PM ET

Primis's avatar

1).  VERSUS/NBC Sportschannel needs to be in more homes.

2).  They need an NBC Sportschannel 2.

If they can do these 2 things, and continue to promote on actual NBC… ESPN will honestly be long forgotten.

It’s a gamble, but so is ESPN, and as they like to say I see this as having more “upside”.

Posted by Primis on 04/19/11 at 01:19 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

Bettman is a moron. If I’m a player, I’m pissed. Rather than maximizing the revenue by putting the contract out for bids, he gave a (possibly sweetheart) deal to one of his bosses.

The problem with versucks continues to be market penetration. Where it is available, it is often lumped in a higher-cost tier, while ESPN/ESPN2 are usually in the lowest tier. Every hotel room I have stayed in over the past 25 years has has ESPN. I’ve never stayed in a hotel room that had versucks.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 04/19/11 at 02:27 PM ET

Avatar

Dear NBC,
I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship if you please:
1. Please, please, please bring on Joe. B.
2. Fire Pierre and Milbury
2. Get an overhead goal cam
3. Show telestrations of player plays once in a while, not just injured linesmen
3. Use the correct game clock. If that is not possible, please get a camera that films the correct game clock.

Shake?

Posted by manda on 04/19/11 at 02:43 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Yes, but would you rather have 1 game a week floating between ESPN/ESPN2 in more homes, and have that game get preempted by god-knows-what half the time because ESPN overprograms… or 2, 3, or 4 games a week in a few less on an NBC SportsChannel?

As I said, if they can ever stop the nonsense with the bad blood that Comcast created and get into more homes, the whole point is moot because the household difference is negligible.

It’s a gamble, like I said.  Going to ESPN would be one as well, as last time showed when it ended there.  I don’t blame the league for taking the lesser gamble that has more potential upside in the longrun (which is maybe why the contract is long-term).

Everyone really forgets how poorly ESPN treats programming that isn’t NBA, NFL, or MLB though.  Very poorly.  I’m still unsure why everyone is so eager to run back to that…

Posted by Primis on 04/19/11 at 02:46 PM ET

SK77's avatar

All I know is I’m currently stuck in a region of almost 500,000 people with only one cable provider and unless I spend another $55 on top of the $80 I’m already paying for expanded digital cable I don’t get Versus. Let’s say I did though, I’m spending $135 and not even getting access to 50% of the playoff games in the opening rounds.

Or I can spend $80 to get limited coverage of the first two rounds through NHL GameCenter or whatever it’s called ... but they can’t show games on Versus, so the best matches are cherry-picked.

Or, out of basic frustration and desperation, I can just stream it online for free.

Honestly, I went through the cable routine and then tried online, but it’s so frickin’ ridiculous trying to watch the NHL that I feel like I’m essentially forced into finding illegal streams online.

Posted by SK77 on 04/19/11 at 03:00 PM ET

phillyd's avatar

When they tie Versus (or whatever the are going to brand it, SNBC?) in with the rest of their programming (which is way more than I thought), it’ll expand into many homes.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 04/19/11 at 04:00 PM ET

Primis's avatar

http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/news/story?id=6389351

ESPN, which previously carried NHL games, also sought the league’s broadcast and media rights.

“We had constructive conversations with the NHL offering them the opportunity for unprecedented distribution of every game of the Stanley Cup playoffs on ESPN platforms, including authentication to broadband and mobile devices,” ESPN said in a statement.

ESPN still had no respect for regular season games.

End.  Of.  Story.

Posted by Primis on 04/19/11 at 04:10 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

ESPN can go back to not caring about hockey anymore.

Now, where’s that MLS game of the week playing???

Posted by Hank1974 on 04/19/11 at 04:25 PM ET

Primis's avatar

For the record, ESPN would have stuck a lot of games on ESPN3.  Which is what you stream online or off XBox Live.

That’s not real television.

Posted by Primis on 04/19/11 at 04:33 PM ET

Avatar

Dear NHL,
More west-coast games on VS and/or NHL Network US.

Melrose, Hradek, Barnaby, Lebrun, Buccigross and the red-head should releive Pierre, Milbury and Eddie-O. David Amber needs some of his old buddies in the studio (in addition to Weekes, Johnson, Larry Murphy, etc).

Posted by Jesters Dead on 04/19/11 at 06:47 PM ET

Primis's avatar

ESPN’s hockey crew is, by and large, horrible.  Barnaby is a joke, Melrose is a joke, Buccigross is so into the Cult of Self that he’s lost, and Lebrun never adds anythig useful.

I would definitely like Weekes on US television.  And I’d like somebody to bribe someone else to somehow land Craig Simpson.

For the record, since the NBC/VERSUS thing and the firing of Beninati and subsequent hiring of Ken Daniels, somebody also must have put down the law to Darryl Reaugh.  He has NOT been the annoying, self-absorbed bundle lately like he normally is.  Instead, he’s more analytical and actually adds useful stuff.  A good move IMHO.

Posted by Primis on 04/19/11 at 09:10 PM ET

Avatar

A great day for the NHL. 10 year deal, $2.2 billion contract proves the expansion plan to make hockey a nationwide sport is paying off.  The fact so many here are miserable that Bettman could pull this off is the icing on the cake!!!

Posted by timbits on 04/19/11 at 11:56 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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