NHL Reach 10-Year USD2bn Broadcast Renewal with NBC/Versus

April 20, 2011

The National Hockey League (NHL) has signed a 10-year renewal of its broadcast agreement with American television network NBC and cable television channel Versus in a record breaking deal.

Although specific financial details of the rights agreement are unknown, Sports Business Journal (SBJ) reports that bidding for the ice hockey league’s television rights had exceeded US$200m per year, $2bn in total.

SBJ reported: “Fox pulled out of the bidding last week, and Turner pulled out yesterday, saying it could not find a business model to support the money the NHL appears to be getting in this negotiation.”

In addition, they stated: “Sources said it was too difficult for the NHL and ESPN to work around NBC and Versus’ matching rights.”

The new deal is the largest in the league’s history, greatly exceeding the annual $120m sum that EPSN paid between 1999 and 2004 and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed that it is “”the most significant U.S. media rights partnership in the league’s history.”

NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol added: “Our wonderful run of not paying anything for a number of years is over with this deal.”

The NHL’s previous deal with the two Comcast-owned organisations saw Versus paying $77.5m annually while the NBC deal worked on a revenue sharing basis generated from advertising.