The NHL is reportedly returning to ESPN.
Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reported on Tuesday that, according to multiple sources, the league and the U.S. television station have agreed to a seven-year deal starting in 2021-2022. Johnston noted that ESPN was broadcasting four Stanley Cup Finals between 2022 and 2028, but there was no information on who they would share the rights with. Disney, which owns 80% of ESPN, would get the streaming rights under the deal.
Although financial terms are unknown at this time, NBC – currently the rights holder – is paying $ 200 million a year to broadcast NHL games. The contract expires after this season.
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ESPN hosted the NHL from 1992 to 2004, with some of the biggest names in broadcasting calling games. This includes current “Monday Night Football” play-by-play presenter Steve Levy, Gary Thorne, Jack Edwards and the late Dave Strader. Analysts included Darren Pang, Bill Clement, Brian Engblom and current NBC analyst Eddie Olcyzk.
Due to the 2004-05 NHL lockout that resulted in the loss of the entire season, ESPN did not choose their option for 2005-06 for $ 60 million.
“Tonight we informed the NHL that we had not accepted their final contract offer,” said George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports. said in a 2005 statement. “We have worked very hard to build and maintain our relationship with the league and we would have liked to have continued. However, given the league’s extended work stoppages and history of TV ratings, no financial model even remotely takes the terms of the proposed contract. “
The league switched to Comcast’s Outdoor Life Network – which later became Versus and then NBC Sports Network – after agreeing to a three-year deal worth more than $ 200 million.
Today, ESPN expanded league coverage on ESPN + with the broadcast of NHL-related games and shows. There has been no word if “NHL 2Night” – the popular NHL-focused daily show hosted by John Buccigross and featuring analysts Barry Melrose, Ray Ferraro and EJ Hradek – would return. The fans still salivate at the idea.
The reaction on Twitter was also positive regarding the news from ESPN and the NHL reunion:
It’s really great for the NHL. ESPN is a big network in the United States and every time you get involved with Disney is a win-win situation. https://t.co/HIGqxYjyOt
– Off the Rails sports podcast (@ OTRsports99) March 9, 2021