Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 08/17/05 at 01:00 AM ET
The NHL leaves ESPN for an up-and-coming network willing to pay more for the league's national TV rights — although the upstart reaches fewer homes. That happened when Ronald Reagan was in the White House. And the NHL, probably today, might pull off a similar slap shot. Sometimes, the NHL seems like one lucky league. In 1988, now-defunct SportsChannel America hoped NHL games would help it cobble together a network of fewer than 10 million households. It paid $17 million annually over three years — twice what ESPN had been paying — to show NHL games in about one-quarter of the households ESPN then reached. That ended up being too much: SCA managed to get a fourth NHL season for just $5 million. Likewise, the Outdoor Life Network seems ready to outspend ESPN in hopes of using NHL games to heighten its profile.
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