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ESPN trying to get back the NHL?


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NHL could return to ESPN

Tuesday, Jul 31, 2007 2:51 pm EDT

John Ourand and Tripp Mickle of Sports Business Journal report the NHL and ESPN are talking about a deal that could see the U.S. cable sports powerhouse televising games as early as the 2008-09 season.

The deal would see ESPN take over the weekly NBC package. Versus would have to surrender its exclusive cable rights in the U.S., but the network nobody can find would benefit from cross-promotions from ESPN.

Source: Montreal Gazette

Take this as rumor though.

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This is a contingecy plan the league is working on if NBC doesn't pick up their option for 08-09. ESPN or ESPN2 would pick up NBC's package (probably tweak it a bit since it's no longer a network deal). Versus would remain as the major cable outlet for the league still having the All-Star game and and most of the playoffs.

I'm unsure about this. Things would have to change from the last time ESPN had NHL rights for me to like it.

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If Versus can't get on to basic cable, it will be pointless if ESPN only shows one game a week, taking over bowling's spot on ESPN on Sundays. If ESPN does get the NHL back, it should be like it was before with three nights of hockey or so a week on basic cable where most people could easily find it. If Versus must remain on the TV contract, give them the Sunday afternoon spot.

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This is good news for hockey in the US but I live in Canada so frankly I could care less. If I was bettman though...the NHL would already be on ESPN and it would never have been on NBC or VERSUS...

"Cat Eyes" - Josh

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They can put hockey on with the Super Bowl as the lead and it won't work. Americans will simply never embrace hockey, it had it's chance but failed. It will always be one step above soccer and the metric system.

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I'd be more excited about this if it wasn't for the fact that after years of holding out, I finally broke down and ordered digital cable and NHL Center Ice for the upcoming year. Shockingly enough, even with Comcast as my cable operator, Versus still isn't on the basic tier. How stupid is that? It's like they're screwing themselves.

I don't see NBC dumping out of the deal in the next year or two. They keep the NHL around as as a promotional tie-in leading into Vancouver 2010. Beyond that point I could easily see them deciding they had enough as their Olympic rights at the moment only extend into London 2012. If they acquire Sochi 2014, this could change.

I don't neccessarily buy into the argument that if you are on free television in the US, then you are a legit league. Did anyone watch the Arena Bowl on ABC this Sunday and suddenly think to themselves that they had seen the fifth (or if you're cynical, the fourth) major sport in this country? If the NHL is truly looking to the future, they'd see that appearing primariy on ESPN or ESPN2 is more than adequate for the next few years and still gets them into 100 million homes and every sports bar and restaurant in America.

But, this is still Gary Bettman's league so who knows what they'll do next.

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If NBC does decide to dump the NHL I wouldn't mind it making the move back to ESPN so long as they keep Mike Emrick on for play by play. I hadn't had much exposure to Emrick before the NBC deal but I've really come to enjoy the game that he calls. Oh yeah and they absolutely have to have Don Cherry on intermission reports.

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All I can say about this rumor is....PLEASE let it be true! I'm tired of hearing the beating hockey takes from reporters on Around the Horn, PTI and others, and I'm pretty sure ESPN wouldn't tear that product down if they got it on their network. But again, I can only hope this happens....

They did that when ESPN had the rights before why would getting the rights back change that.

The NHL's mistake was not leaving ESPN it's mistake was not leaving sooner. They should have taken the FOX offer in 1998 which would have put the league on for 11 weeks during the season (like the original FOX deal), all 7 Cup Final games on FOX, plus the cable rights on FX. Instead they took the much bigger Disney offer which was 4 game on ABC during the season and only games 3-7 of the Final on ABC. The difference of course was money the Disney deal was worth 600 million where the FOX deal was worth 250 million at most. Disney offered that much because at the time the NHL was ESPN's only winter programming. However ESPN never promoted the NHL and once they got the NBA rights pushed the league to the side. In hindsight the NHL would have been better off taking the FOX deal that would have had more network tv exposure and the promotion that goes along with all FOX programming.

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They can put hockey on with the Super Bowl as the lead and it won't work. Americans will simply never embrace hockey, it had it's chance but failed. It will always be one step above soccer and the metric system.

There are millions of drug dealers across the country who would argue that the metric system is an important thing.

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I wasn't aware that FOX was offering that kind of coverage. I knew that they didn't match Disney's offer, and that 95% of the affiliates backed the decision. I never understood why FOX only televised nine Finals games in five years. It never made sense to me since Game 1 of the 1997 Finals on FOX had the largest audience in NHL history.

Anyway, I give two :censored: what those twits on PTI and ATH think. Even if the NHL were on ESPN, they wouldn't change their tune. They'd only talk hockey if there were some brawl or vicious hit. If I had my druthers, the NHL would make a deal with USA or TNT/TBS. But it irks me to think of the NHL, with hat in hand, going back to ESPN. The Frozen Four is one thing; the Stanley Cup has to be on network television, if possible. As far as NBC goes, I really hope that they do stick with the NHL; not only because the NHL needs to be on network television, but because NBC really does a superb job televising hockey. It's been the NHL's bad luck that, three seasons in a row, one of the non-markets has been in the Finals.

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I wasn't aware that FOX was offering that kind of coverage. I knew that they didn't match Disney's offer, and that 95% of the affiliates backed the decision. I never understood why FOX only televised nine Finals games in five years. It never made sense to me since Game 1 of the 1997 Finals on FOX had the largest audience in NHL history.

Anyway, I give two :censored: what those twits on PTI and ATH think. Even if the NHL were on ESPN, they wouldn't change their tune. They'd only talk hockey if there were some brawl or vicious hit. If I had my druthers, the NHL would make a deal with USA or TNT/TBS. But it irks me to think of the NHL, with hat in hand, going back to ESPN. The Frozen Four is one thing; the Stanley Cup has to be on network television, if possible. As far as NBC goes, I really hope that they do stick with the NHL; not only because the NHL needs to be on network television, but because NBC really does a superb job televising hockey. It's been the NHL's bad luck that, three seasons in a row, one of the non-markets has been in the Finals.

You have to remember before FOX the NHL had no US network deal and the entire Stanley Cup Final was on cable. They had gone 20 years with out without having games on network tv and even then it was just a select few games of the Final on TV. So Fox scheduled to air 3 games of the final each year was quite an upgrade than previously. Also from FOX's standpoint putting the entire final on at that point was risky since it hadn't been on broadcast tv for such a long period. Add in with the fact that outside of the last year every final under the FOX deal was a 4 game sweep an that's why so few final games were on FOX. I'm sure the 1997 ratings (which were strong for hockey) is one of the reasons why the made the offer which would have put the entire final on network tv (which still to this day has never happened in the states).

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If ESPN is considering another go-round with the NHL, that tells me they may be ready to ditch the NBA at the earliest opportunity. NHL TV rights can be had for a song, but NBA rights are much higher even though their ratings aren't that much better. This would be a good opportunity for ESPN to cut costs while offering a little more variety in their winter programming, which was already nearly wall-to-wall college basketball before they got the NBA.

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the NHL? pshhh bring back Pro Beach Hockey

That I doubt will ever happen, despite having a hot girl like Tiffany Richardson hosting it. BTW, Dawg Pac 4 Life :)

Because I felt like it:

tif2.jpg

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