The National Hockey League, or NHL, doesn’t quite have the coverage like the other three major sports in the U.S.  Hockey has had numerous broadcasting companies own the rights to their games, starting in 1950 with CBS.  One of the most famous video clips in NHL Stanley Cup history, Bobby Orr’s famous flight goal, was broadcasted by CBS.  Throughout the years the NHL television rights has changed hands numerous times.  Companies that have owned the rights to broadcast NHL games include; CBS, ESPN, ABC, FOX, and currently NBC.


Ice hockey has grown in popularity but has yet to, and probably will never hit the popularity of the MLB, NFL, or NBA.  Despite this “lack of interest” ice hockey television rights has increased in cost and profit.  The NHL thrives in Canada and recently signed a deal with Rogers Communication for a reported 12 years, $5.2 billion, beginning in the 2014-2015 season.  Here in the US, hockey takes a back seat to the other three major sports, but the NHL signed a new deal with NBC for 10 years, $2billion.


I think that the value of television rights for the NHL is growing because the sport is getting more and more popular each season.  The addition of the Winter Classic, an outdoor game held on New Years, and the Stadium Series, a series of outdoor games, has helped bring in fans. The stadium series has been a huge boost for NHL popularity the past season. My dad who never watches hockey turns on stadium games just because of the entirely different look and feel of the game.


Although TV deals are seemingly more important and are an indicator of how popular a sport is I’m not sure why this is. Radio viewership is increasing exponentially while TV has taken an almost 50% dive in the past years. Even though TV viewership is down advertisement deals are at an all-time high which definitely is driving much of the profit based TV-sport deals. Could it be that entertainment deals are a flexing tool as much as they are a profit tool? I believe so.












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