Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 08/29/05 at 09:41 AM ET
Despite repeated OLN claims to the contrary, the NHL's new cable network partner does not have the contractual right to black out games carried by Cablevision on a digital subscription tier, unimpeachable sources have told The Post. As such, Ranger fans with Cablevision will be able to watch their team's Oct. 5 season-opener in Philadelphia that will be telecast exclusively over OLN. They'll also be able to see every regular-season and playoff game carried on an exclusive basis by the national cable network. According to sources with access to the contract between OLN and the NHL, the specific language granting the right to black out games that do not appear on basic extended cable applies only "on a going-forward basis." This is terminology in the cable business legally understood to mean any future agreements that might be struck between OLN and new cable system carriers.more (reg. req.) and an alternative link... Then we have an article on how important the NHL is to OLN.
With hockey returning this fall after the 2004-05 season was canceled due to a labor squabble, there were legitimate questions about the value of the sport on TV. Disney/ABC's ESPN crunched the numbers and projected the ad and subscriber revenue and declined to exercise its option to match the OLN offer. If it were just about ad revenue and current sub fees, the critics would be right. However, the hockey deal is about a lot more than that. It will drive distribution of OLN from its current sub count of about 65 million to around 80 million over the next couple of years and allow OLN to significantly raise the fee paid by cable operators, which is currently around 12 cents per subscriber. ESPN, which has rights in other major sports, gets a reported $2.60 per sub, so there is a lot of upside potential. "It's a viewership play. It's a brand play. It's a distribution play," said Gavin Harvey, president of OLN. "There's so much the NHL brings to us. It all comes down to the value proposition." By "value proposition" he means the benefit that will be perceived by consumers, advertisers, the media and cable system operators. "Hockey is a tremendous crown jewel acquisition for us," Mr. Harvey added. "It is going to help our network in many ways. It's one of those transformative events."more
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