The NHL is moving to NBC, according to the New York Times.
It’s a good deal for NBC. They’re not paying the NHL anything upfront. It’s just an agreement to share revenue from a few regular season games, Saturday playoff games, and games three through seven of the Finals.
This deal has got to be a wake-up call to the league, though. NBC basically gave the NHL the same contract they gave arena football. So while hockey likes to say it’s a big four sport here in the States, to the networks, it’s on par with a fringe sport like arena football. And the ratings for arena football might actually be stronger than the NHL’s.
The Times also reports that the league is still trying to reach a deal with ESPN for the rest of the game package.
I’m wondering if NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman grabbed this NBC deal because he can use it as leverage when negotiating with the players this fall. With this deal in his pocket, he can say that hockey doesn’t have the revenue potential of sports like basketball and baseball. Because of this revenue sharing deal, that doesn’t guarantee revenue, Bettman now has a stronger argument for a salary cap.
But forget all that.
My big questions is ‘Will Bob Costas call NHL games since NBC has no other major sports to speak of?’
My other big questions is ‘Might we see a booth with Costas and Peter Puck?’ Because those two need to work together.