NBC Inks TV Deal with NHL

NHL and NBC sign two-year deal with a two-year option for NBC.

The deal is interesting on many levels:

  1. The deal is for revenue-sharing, not rights-fees. NHL teams will not be able to plan on having $X from the NBC in their budget; they will instead have to make an estimate. I’m assuming that the two organizations will partner to work this out in advance, because everyone needs to budget. This moves yet another fixed revenue stream to a variable one, and it further emphasizes the NHL’s irrelevance to the average American sports TV viewer. The bigger sports can demand and get an up-front rights fee to broadcast league games because the demand will be high, minimizing the risk for the network. This is ultimately bad for the NHL, because they’re the only major professional sports league to still have gate receipts be the majority revenue stream. What was certain just got less certain.
  2. The Peacock will air one of the four major professional sports leagues for the first time in two years. It’s also been 29 years since NBC last aired an NHL game.
  3. The NHL was able to get a deal done amidst talk of a lockout. Although the lack of rights fees implies that there is flexibility in the deal, I’m surprised that anyone would deal with the league while it looks as if there might not be major professional hockey at all in 2004-05.

Phew.

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