NHL, WarnerMedia Strike 7-Year Deal That Puts Live Games on HBO Max

Hockey is going somewhere it has never been before.

WarnerMedia gained rights to show live NHL games on its two big cable networks, TBS and TNT, as well as its new streaming hub, HBO Max, in a seven-year pact valued at least at $200 million that expands the company’s sports-rights portfolio for the first time in years. Disney’s ESPN already secured rights to a larger NHL package. The league is cutting ties with NBCUniversal, which has had sole dominion over its U.S. broadcast rights for 16 years.

“We’re delighted to spotlight the world’s best hockey league on our leading networks, while continuing to further elevate this marquee property through an ever-expanding array of digital platforms in the years to come,” said Jeff Zucker, chairman of WarnerMedia’s news and sports operations, in a prepared statement.

The agreement commences with the 2021-2022 season.

Under terms of the pact, WarnerMedia’s TBS and TNT will get to broadcast the Stanley Cup Final and parts of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time — though ESPN will get the Final four times in the next three years and Turner will have it on three occasions TNT will have exclusive rights to the league’s annual Winter Classic. Overall, Turner Sports will get rights to up to 72 regular-season games each season, and will be able to show those games on HBO Max and via a variety of mobile screens. Turner can also show clips and highlights via its Bleacher Report and House of Highlights venues.

Turner Sports expects to unveil game and studio coverage plans in months to come.

The league is essentially tripling the fees it stands to take in with the two new pacts. NBCUniversal had been paying an estimated $200 million a year for the full NHL schedule. Now ESPN is seen paying around $400 million for its share of the rights. With Turner’s $200 million per year estimate, that would give the league $600 million a year in fees, or $4.2 billion over the course of the next seven years.

“Our partnership with the NHL will end at the conclusion of the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs and Stanley Cup Final, which we will present with the same excitement and professionalism that fans have come to expect since the 2005-06 season. We thank the league, its players, coaches and fans for their friendship, cooperation, and viewership, and we wish the league continued success,” NBC Sports said in a statement. “We also thank all of our colleagues at NBC Sports who through a passion for the game and their tireless efforts helped the league achieve unprecedented growth over the last 16 years.”

More to come…

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