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NHL's new TV deal. Hockey on thin ice?
The National Hockey League agreed with NBC on a two year television deal. The move comes as the NHL's existing contract with ABC expires in a few weeks and from the looks of it, the league has taken a hair cut when it comes to revenues. The NBC deal includes no upfront guaranteed payments and is solely based on profit sharing. As part of the deal, NBC would first recouperate its production costs and only then would advertising revenues be shared between the network and NHL. It is theoretically possible that the NHL will end up with no money from the airing of its games on NBC.
This is a far cry from its current deal that guaranteed about $120 million. Hockey will continue to be seen on ABC's ESPN network as the league and ESPN have worked out a side deal for some regular season and playoff games. Of course the league's potential revenues for the next season will depend on whether there is any hockey at all since the collective bargaining agreement with the players also expires in a couple of weeks.
In a nutshell, this TV deal puts the National Hockey League in the same media category as the Arena Football League. Not quite in the 'major leagues'.