Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/14/07 at 01:08 PM ET
from Sports Business Journal (paid sub.),
Weeks after the cable and satellite industries completed a deal for baseball’s out-of-market package and planned MLB Channel, another sports league is involved in similar negotiations with the same companies.
In this case, however, talks between the NHL and In Demand, DirecTV and EchoStar are not nearly as acrimonious as the ones Major League Baseball had with cable for the first three months of this year. In fact, multiple cable sources said they expect to launch the NHL Network, which is currently available in Canada, on a digital sports tier before the 2007-08 season.
With its Center Ice package up for renewal, the league is leveraging negotiations around that out-of-market package to get carriage for an NHL channel. Subscriptions to “Center Ice” have been strong since the lockout, increasing by 38 percent from pre-lockout levels, according to deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
Unlike MLB, though, the NHL is not expected to give cable or satellite operators a stake in its planned channel. It’s not known how much the NHL is seeking to charge cable operators for carriage, but it’s expected to be less than the 20 cents to 30 cents that the MLB Channel will get.
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