have reached agreement on a landmark 10-year television and media rights deal,
taking the partnership through the 2020-21 season. The expanded partnership,
under which NBC remains the exclusive network home and VERSUS the exclusive
cable home of the NHL® in the U.S., is highlighted by the first-ever national
distribution of all Stanley Cup® Playoffs contests, including, for the first
time, exclusive coverage starting with the Conference Semifinals. The agreement
also calls for the NBC Sports Group to televise 100 regular season games per
year and introduces a national NBC broadcast on Thanksgiving Friday. The
announcement was made today by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Dick Ebersol,
Chairman, NBC Sports Group.
According to the agreement, the NBC Sports Group obtains digital rights across
all platforms and devices for the games it televises.. In the regular season,
will continue to broadcast a national "Game of the Week," along with its
coverage of the NHL Winter Classic® and "Hockey Day in America." VERSUS also
will telecast an exclusive national "Game of the Week," as well as NHL
Premiere™ Games, NHL Faceoff™, the NHL All-Star Game and any future NHL
Heritage Classic™ outdoor games in Canada. NBC and VERSUS remain the exclusive
home of the Stanley Cup Final. The NBC Sports Group's commitment includes
building a new studio for NHL Network™ at its existing facility Stamford, Conn.
"This is the most significant U.S. media rights partnership in the League's
history," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "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
"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. It is a credit to our players, our great
game and our outstanding fans that Brian Roberts, Steve Burke, Dick Ebersol and
their teams would make a commitment of this scale. We also know the best is yet
"We have significantly increased the value of the NBC Sports Group with this
unprecedented, 10-year agreement with the National Hockey League," said Dick
Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Sports Group. "What's particularly exciting for us is
not only the significant increase in regular season games, but the reality of a
dream that every single playoff game will air on an NBC Sports Group platform.
For the first time, the Conference Semifinal round will be exclusive on VERSUS
with a 200 percent increase in games. In the regular season, we're increasing
VERSUS' coverage from roughly 50 to 90 games.
"I cannot understate the importance of Gary Bettman's leadership. He
understands the scope and the promotional ability of not only our new NBC
Sports Group, but of the new NBCUniversal under Comcast's ownership. The NHL
has been and will continue to be one of our cornerstone properties."
The NHL's partnerships with both NBC Sports and VERSUS launched for the
2005-06 season and the six-year relationship has produced many ratings
milestones. Among them:
* Overall NHL television ratings in the United States have increased by 84
percent over the last four years
* The 2011 NHL Winter Classic on NBC was the most-watched regular season game
in the U.S. in 36 years
* VERSUS' 2011 regular season viewership was the network's best ever, up 17
percent over last season
* The 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs saw the largest audience in the history of
the sport, with Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on NBC the most-watched NHL
game in the U.S. in 36 years
* The 2010 Playoffs on VERSUS were the most watched on U.S. cable in eight
years, while the first two rounds were the most watched on cable on record.
* Just last week, VERSUS achieved its best opening night viewership in its six
years of Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage
The agreement between the NHL and the NBC Sports Group includes targeted
promotion across the combined Comcast/NBCUniversal company which, since the
merger, consists of 20 television networks and more than 40 digital platforms.
VERSUS, which was in 64 million homes in 2005, is now in more than 79 million
homes and is on course for further expansion of its distribution. The combined
promotional muscle has already led to increased ratings for events such as the
NHL Winter Classic, NHL Heritage Classic and Hockey Day in America.
Over the last five years, the NHL has grown TV ratings, substantially
increased sponsorship and advertising revenue through partnerships with blue
chip companies, built a robust digital business and created a year-round
calendar of big events including the NHL Winter Classic, all while receiving
numerous industry awards and media accolades. The League for the 2010-11 season
is on pace to once again set a record for total revenue despite the challenging
economy, surpassing $2.9 billion overall.
Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home
telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on