NHL on Versus One More Year?

The current deal between the NHL and Versus expires at the end of this season.  There’s been no announcement or story in any State-side paper yet, but the Globe and Mail has this note at the end of a story about the NHL extending agreements with CBC and TSN:

Versus, the U.S. cable channel, has extended its deal with the NHL through 2007-08. The Versus audiences are growing, up to about 195,000 a game, but far short of ESPN’s 416,000 average in 2003-04.

This is just after a lot of media attention about how the NHL All-Star game was hard to find (ironic that the story itself let people know about it and where it is).

If true, one big trigger that’ll come from this one-year extension: Comcast, owner of Versus, will now help distribute the NHL Network in the US.  They have until July to do so.  That could have played a large part in the NHL’s decision to renew.

Some recent NHL-Versus-related media stories:
Did Versus leave fans glued to tube?
Has the NHL become invisible?
Will Fans Find NHL All-Star Game?
Hockey TV versus apathy

Update 300am: Commenting below, Mike Chen brings up a good point, that Versus was able to trigger the extension, possibly by reaching a certain level of distribution.

Either way, I hope Time Warner in NYC carries the NHL Network.

Update 315pm Andy Strickland had news of the extension back on the 10th.

There’s been no release, and not much news about it.  I still think the NHL Network being broadcast in the US is the most important thing to come from this, no matter what the trigger was.

There’s also been talk that ESPN2 is interested in a game or two a week.

If the NHL could forge a deal with ESPN/ESPN2 and VS and have 3-4 games broadcast a week on national cable, it’d be the ideal solution for the league.  While the money probably wouldn’t be as good with Disney & co., it would provide much needed exposure, plus it would also allow the NHL to advertise on ESPN, something they cannot do now because the network does not allow advertising for sports that they don’t broadcast.

Update 520pm:  Just a random thought.  If the NHL were to ever be broadcast games on the ESPN networks again, I do hope the network can come up with some creative like this about NASCAR coming back to ESPN.  I don’t really watch NASCAR, I’ve never been to an event, but I still like the spot and can just relate to it as a sports fan.  Well done.

Posted by David M Singer on Jan 26, 2007 at 02:51 AM
MediaNHL

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