Tuesday, April 19, 2011

NHL stays with NBC and Versus

NBC-NHL Logo/Courtesy: NHL.com
And you know what that means if you are an NHL fan. For those who aren't; Versus is a small cable sports network owned by Comcast, who owns NBC. They broadcast hockey, pro bull riding and other largely obscure sports.

At 1 pm today, there will be a news conference with Heir Bettman (NHL Commish Gary Bettman) and Dick Ebersol. They will discuss the details of their new agreement. One, which the network will pay somewhere north of $200 million a year for 10-years, according to the Sports Business Journal.

Read the whole story and some reaction from Yahoo Sports RIGHT HERE

Perhaps the most interesting thing here is that ESPN didn't win the rights. Most consider the 4-letter, the alleged "Gold-Standard" in TV Sports. We disagree.

While not overwhelming fans of Versus...in part because the network is incredibly hard to find on both Cable and DirecTV, they do an excellent job on their telecasts and in promoting the games.

We also applaud the league for getting some money up front now. The past several years, it was an ad-share deal (they split ads, NBC paid nothing for the rights) and that limited revenues. Sure, it doesn't compare to the NFL's multiple billion dollars in TV rights, but its a good start. The revenues should help some of the smaller market teams and league gain a bit of stability.

This is a bit of a gamble for NBC, but we are reasonably confident the deal was done to help grow the Versus. We hope they'll rebrand it now, and according to the Yahoo story, it appears they will.

We hope this will continue the recovery of one of our new favorite sports. Though we didn't have much in the way of hockey growing up in Florida, we've come to appreciate the skill, stamina and pure physicality of the game. Yes, its still much more fun to watch in person, but hopefully as things progress, it will be seen more and better on TV too.

Video to come later today.

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