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NHL Renews with NBC and Versus


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NHL to remain with NBC, Versus

NEW YORK -- The NHL is staying on NBC and Versus for the next 10 years with a deal commissioner Gary Bettman calls the most significant in league history.

In a joint announcement Tuesday, the NHL and the NBC Sports Group said the new deal will run through the 2020-21 season. The package is reportedly worth a total of $2 billion.

NBC will remain the exclusive network home for the NHL, and Versus is retaining the major cable rights. The NHL had drawn interest from ESPN, Turner and Fox Sports, but decided to stay where it has been for the past six years since the end of the season-long lockout.

"This is right across all factors, not the least of which is the tremendous relationship we have with NBC and Versus," Bettman said. "When we looked at the entire package and the relationship, it was clear we were going to stay with the incumbent.

"But it's nice to go out and find out you're pretty."

For the first time, all Stanley Cup playoff games will air on one of the NBC Sports Group's channels. Beginning in the second round and running through the finals, those channels will hold exclusivity. NBC will show up to five games of the Stanley Cup finals, with Versus airing Games 3 and 4.

The NBC Sports Group will televise 100 regular-season games per season, and NBC will have a new telecast the day after Thanksgiving in the new contract.

This deal would easily exceed the $120 million contract the NHL had with ESPN from 1999-2004.

"We had constructive conversations with the NHL and wish the league continued success," ESPN said in a statement.

"Everybody has enormous respect for ESPN," Bettman said. "Six years ago we decided to go in a different direction, for a variety of reasons, and it has worked well for us. This for us is a great place to be. Versus' coverage of our game has been extraordinary. Hockey fans have found it and have been telling us on a regular basis that the coverage is terrific, and I think it's going to get better."

In the current contract, Versus pays the NHL about $75 million per year but NBC doesn't pay at all because of a revenue-sharing agreement with the league.

That will now change.

"Our run of not paying anything for a number of years is over with this deal," said Dick Ebersol, the chairman of the NBC Sports Group. "We are paying a substantial part, not the majority."

Bettman didn't seem concerned about how the payments would be split between NBC and Versus under the umbrella of Comcast Corp., which acquired the majority stake in NBC Universal in January.

"I never had any regrets with the deal we had with NBC," Bettman said. "As far as we're concerned it's one contract. They can whack it up any way they want."

The NBC Sports Group will obtain digital rights across all platforms for the games it televises. In the regular season, NBC will continue to show a national game of the week and the outdoor Winter Classic.

Versus also will maintain a national game of the week, the All-Star Game telecast, and other outdoor games played in Canada. Versus also will increase its number of regular-season telecasts from 50 to 90 games.

"This is the most significant U.S. media rights partnership in the league's history," Bettman said. "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."

Under the previous deal, overall NHL television ratings in the United States increased by 84 percent over the last four years, and this year's Winter Classic was the most-watched regular season hockey game in the U.S. in 36 years.

Versus boasted its highest regular-season viewership this season, a 17 percent jump over last season.

With the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, the company now consists of 20 television networks and more than 40 digital platforms. Versus has gone from 64 million homes in 2005 to more than 79 million homes.

Ebersol said the Versus name will be changed within 90 days to better reflect its association with NBC. The most attractive part of the deal from the NBC side is the exclusive nature it provides.

"This is a perfect marriage with us," he said. "Nothing serves the NBC Sports Group better than the National Hockey League."

The NHL said it is on pace this season to set a record for total revenue, surpassing $2.9 billion overall.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Its a shame that ESPN could give a damn about covering the NHL. They devote more time to debating what player with go in the fifth round of the NFL draft then the NHL playoffs.

That being said though, I love NBC and Versus coverage and its infinetely better then what ESPN would give them who I think has just given up covering hockey altogether.

Now if the MLB can just pull their Fox coverage, I'd be completely happy.

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Its a shame that ESPN could give a damn about covering the NHL. They devote more time to debating what player with go in the fifth round of the NFL draft then the NHL playoffs.

That being said though, I love NBC and Versus coverage and its infinetely better then what ESPN would give them who I think has just given up covering hockey altogether.

Now if the MLB can just pull their Fox coverage, I'd be completely happy.

You may get your wish MLB is on the open market and I think either ABC or NBC will get the contract!

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Its a shame that ESPN could give a damn about covering the NHL. They devote more time to debating what player with go in the fifth round of the NFL draft then the NHL playoffs.

That being said though, I love NBC and Versus coverage and its infinetely better then what ESPN would give them who I think has just given up covering hockey altogether.

Now if the MLB can just pull their Fox coverage, I'd be completely happy.

You may get your wish MLB is on the open market and I think either ABC or NBC will get the contract!

I would think NBC will push hard for it. It seems they're really trying to get back to being one of the premier sports networks. ESPN didn't offer enough coverage to warrant a switch for the NHL. However, I think one thing that the NHL loses out on is ESPN3 internet broadcasts. I'd be curious to know how many viewers prefer to watch that way.

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Its a shame that ESPN could give a damn about covering the NHL. They devote more time to debating what player with go in the fifth round of the NFL draft then the NHL playoffs.

That being said though, I love NBC and Versus coverage and its infinetely better then what ESPN would give them who I think has just given up covering hockey altogether.

Now if the MLB can just pull their Fox coverage, I'd be completely happy.

You may get your wish MLB is on the open market and I think either ABC or NBC will get the contract!

That would be awesome. I don't have much of an issue with the way ESPN covers the MLB. But Bob Costas announcing MLB again. That's winning.

Buck and McCarver can have their throats ripped out by a cougar for all I care. Pretty much anything that keeps them away from calling baseball games, I'm for it.

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Its a shame that ESPN could give a damn about covering the NHL.

You're wrong - they were the ones who bid up the price. They were in it until the final bid. But NBC had the right to match any other offer, and ESPN was only willing to go so far.

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Well ESPN will be scrambling for something when and if the NFL & NBA both don't happen this year. It baffles me that why ESPN didn't try harder but I do like what Versus? and NBC will be doing.

Just open up your scheduling please the West has some attractive teams that aren't just named the Blackhawks and Red Wings.

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I love this deal a lot. I like the coverage Versus gives to the NHL in comparison to what ESPN did the last few years they had the contract by a wide margin. Plus NBC does a good job of covering it, though with them I can see some improvement (I understand the same 8 teams give the best ratings, but they can go away from Flyers-Rangers for a third time for once). I think though this plays out really nicely, as the NHL will remain the top dog at Versus plus the 10 year deal gives a lot of stability to the league. And to quote a different show on NBC, the NBC-Versus partnership being under the same umbrella now will PROMOTE SYNERGY! LIKE A BOSS!

Oh, and having all the playoff games on national TV is just icing on the cake. I might not even need to order Center Ice next year considering I usually watch Center Ice more during the playoffs than the regular season ever since I've gone away to college, granted my Dad watches it every night back at home

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It'll probably become NBC Sports, because NBC is a valuable brand and Versus is the bull-riding channel. I would even suggest rebranding the local CSNs (except maybe Philly's) to NBC Sports New York, NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Washington, et cetera as a counterpart to Fox Sports.

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Its a shame that ESPN could give a damn about covering the NHL. They devote more time to debating what player with go in the fifth round of the NFL draft then the NHL playoffs.

That being said though, I love NBC and Versus coverage and its infinetely better then what ESPN would give them who I think has just given up covering hockey altogether.

Now if the MLB can just pull their Fox coverage, I'd be completely happy.

You may get your wish MLB is on the open market and I think either ABC or NBC will get the contract!

That would be awesome. I don't have much of an issue with the way ESPN covers the MLB. But Bob Costas announcing MLB again. That's winning.

Buck and McCarver can have their throats ripped out by a cougar for all I care. Pretty much anything that keeps them away from calling baseball games, I'm for it.

ESPN does a great job the only problem I have is the Sunday Night coverage but other than that and bring back Monday Night Baseball on ABC it'll be perfect.

As for Fox I got no problem with McCarver but Joe Buck is a better football annoucer than baseball.

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Just a wild guess on the new name for Versus: NBC Sportsnet. Ties in with the local Comcast Sportsnet brand. Wouldn't be surprised if they start coaxing other local/regional sports networks under their umbrella to compete with/conquer FSN.

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It's a decent move. Still going to be too much Lucky Pierre for my....sigh, well, my taste, I suppose.

I'd expect that with this newfound windfall, the CBA will be revised so that the salary floor is no longer a direct function of revenue, because otherwise the league's precious fetal alcohol babies in Atlanta and Miami won't be able to keep up.

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So... what will Versus name be now?

Comcast uber alles.

-------------------------

So let me get this straight, though...Gary Bettman did something....good for the league?

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No, actually, Bettman & Co. probably hurt the league long-term.

Put simply, the deal is too long, and the dollars too short. While $2 billion over 10 years seems like a lot of money, in reality it's a pittance.

$ 2,000,000,000 divided by 10 years = $ 200,000,000 per year in league-wide revenue

$ 200,000,000 per year divided by 30 clubs = $ 6,666,666 per club, per year, pre-tax.

That's not a whole helluva lot of money for both network and cable/satellite broadcasting rights to your sports property in 2011. I can't imagine how bad it'll look in 2020.

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