The NHL Is Suddenly Very Popular (Among TV Networks)

alex ovechkin washington capitals nhl

Photo: AP

Sports Business Journal reports that FOX and Turner are both “taking a look” at the NHL’s television rights package that will be up for negotiation this year.Sports Illustrated reported last month that the newly merged NBC Sports Group (which includes current rights holders NBC and Versus) has the inside track to retain the NHL contract, but the league — and other networks — are determined to make them pay full price for it. ESPN has also expressed interest in bring back hockey.

Versus saved the NHL from post-lockout oblivion back in 2005, but the new NBC-Comcast group will be eager to stake its claim in the world of major sports broadcasting. ESPN, FOX, and CBS currently dominate the other major sports and right now, Versus pays only $77 million a year for the NHL — a very far cry from the multi-billion dollar national contracts that the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball enjoy.

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