The National Hockey League and Rogers Communications have entered into an agreement regarding national broadcast rights of NHL games in Canada. The deal is a reported twelve years totaling $5.2 billion dollars. The agreement makes Rogers Communications and all of its media platforms the place to find NHL hockey on Canadian televisions. The deal begins in the 2014-2015 season.
Although this has no effect on the way national games are carried in the United States, as NBC and the NHL already have a 10 year agreement in place, it is interesting to ponder what ESPN might be thinking.
Before the lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-2005 season, ESPN was the place to go for NHL hockey. Not only did they televise multiple regular season games weekly, they were responsible for covering the playoffs and Stanley Cup Final. In addition, ESPN also ran a nightly show, NHL2Night, which recapped the days games and news. If you turn on ESPN now, as many hockey fans know, you can barely find any mention of the National Hockey League. The league is almost non-existent unless a major news event happens, and even that is a stretch. Currently, NBC is doing a good job in getting fans access to games. They show games Monday, Tuesday and cap it off with their “Rivalry Night” game on Wednesday.
With the deal cut between the NHL and Rogers, one can only think that ESPN wishes they could have been a part of that payday . We all know the NHL has a bigger following in Canada, but with its growing popularity in the States, the decision ESPN made to walk away from the NHL may be one they end up regretting.
What is your take?