The ideal U.S. TV deal for the NHL

Discussion in 'Fugu's Business of Hockey Forum' started by risnuff, May 20, 2007.

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  1. risnuff

    risnuff Registered User

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    In the wake of what will surely be known to American hockey fans as "The Preakness Game," the television deal in the U.S. has been brought into question around these boards, as well as many others. So I got to thinking about what would be, in my opinion, the best TV deal for hockey fans, as well as ones that the corporate masterminds in charge of the networks and the NHL would find acceptable too. So here's the plan.

    Broadcast partner: NBC

    Yes, that same NBC that cut away from the game for horsie talk, only under my plan, NBC would air a playoff game on Saturday night if there is something in the afternoon that would conflict with hockey, such as either the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, as well as The Players Championship which didn't allow for NBC to air ANY hockey that weekend. Moving the games to the night would also appease the CBC.

    - A game every Saturday starting in January
    - Playoff coverage on Saturdays and Sundays, with some playoff games played on Saturday in primetime in case of scheduling conflicts
    - The All-Star Game, to air on a Saturday night
    - Games 3-7 of the Stanley Cup Finals

    Cable partners: Versus and ESPN

    The NHL needs Versus' money, and ESPN's exposure, so its high time they realize they can get both.

    Versus gets:

    - Rights fee deal
    - Opening night doubleheader
    - Sunday night games
    - Monday night games
    - Games on Versus are blacked out in participating team's markets, except for Conference Finals
    - NHL Skills Competition
    - 4 playoff series in the first round, 2 in the second, and a conference final
    - A nightly NHL highlights show


    ESPN gets:

    - Revenue sharing deal
    - Tuesday night games on ESPN2
    - Wednesday night games on ESPN2
    - All games on ESPN are exclusive in America, meaning no team's local broadcaster can air a game if ESPN's airing it, which includes the playoffs
    - 4 playoff series in the first round, 2 in the second, and a conference final
    - Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals

    ESPN would get the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th choices of playoff series in the first round, with Versus getting the others. ESPN would also have the 1st and 3rd choices for the second round and first choice of the conference final to air. NBC can choose to air any playoff game that airs on the weekend.

    HDNet would continue to air games on Thursday and Saturday, and the soon to be launched American version of the NHL Network can air games during the regular season any night that Versus or ESPN isn't airing one, as well as a simulcast of Hockey Night in Canada.

    Comments and ideas would be appreciated.
     
  2. jkrdevil

    jkrdevil UnRegistered User

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    Question why would Versus agree to continue to pay for a deal in which they get nothing the pay for now. Versus pays for the exclusivity, the All-Star game and the first 2 games of the Finals under your plan that goes to a network that doesn't pay anything. So I ask why would Versus pay anything when they get nothing?

    Also why would NBC put the All-Star Game which gets terrible ratings on Saturday which is a terrible ratings night?
     
  3. Hip Of Rick*

    Hip Of Rick* Snow Must Go!

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    If i remeber correctly ESPN is owned by ABC so one would assume the games would go to ABC and not NBC
     
  4. risnuff

    risnuff Registered User

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    Because Versus needs the NHL. Without it, any of their hopes of someday becoming a legitimate contender to ESPN go right out the window. And since the deal with ESPN is based on revenue sharing, the more money ESPN makes, the more money the NHL makes.If you ask me, if the NHL had to choose between Versus and a rights fee, or ESPN and revenue sharing, ESPN should be the obvious choice.

    I think you just answered your own question. The All-Star Game will be up against reruns, and will be on broadcast television, unlike this year when it was on Versus. The 2004 All-Star game was on ABC, and in primetime I believe. Of course I'm not guaranteeing high ratings, but they'd be higher than they were this year under this deal.

    Not necessarily. Before they voided their contract during the lockout, ESPN would have aired games with NBC. That was supposed to be the deal before ESPN backed out. As for other sports, ESPN airs NFL games, but ABC doesn't anymore. ESPN airs baseball games, but ABC doesn't, Fox does instead. Network and cable deals are usually negotiated separately, although in the case of the NBA and formally the NHL, sometimes they go hand in hand.
     
  5. Trizent

    Trizent Registered User

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    The idea of VS. and ESPN sharing the cable deal is not new and is needed. I don't think the split you have is workable or realistic, though. So VS. pays ~$70M for exclusive rights to all its regular season games now, SCF games 1, 2, both conference finals, some second round games (2 per series), and non-exclusive rights to Round 1 games in addition to All Star Game.

    I'd say the new package you listed for VS. is worth maybe $20M.

    No way in hell, NBC airs NHL in primetime during May sweeps.

    What is possible is weekly game (so ~25 games) on ESPN2, exclusive or the very least co-exist with local RSNs. One Conference final, SCF Games 1&2, share other rounds with VS.

    VS. keeps exact same package as now less the above playoff games. ESPN deal can not be a revenue share deal. You can't give away cable rights.
     
  6. jkrdevil

    jkrdevil UnRegistered User

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    But under your scenario Versus doesn't get what it needs out of the NHL. With no exclusivity and no big events in loses it's demand it needs to try to get on basic cable because no one will lose out on games if they don't get it.

    As for Saturday Night All-Star game that won't be the case. Remember Game 3 of the Final last year was on a Saturday night in late June against reruns and NBC came in last place out of the big 4 networks.
     
  7. puck57

    puck57 Registered User

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    The All Star game for next season is the week between the conference playoffs and the Superbowl weekend, so it is really not conflicting with any major sports and it will be the quiet weekend before the SB so it is great timing to have it on that Saturday night imo.
     
  8. puck57

    puck57 Registered User

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    Your formula seems the most workable and realistic but I think it is still a few years away- maybe not a long time down the road but probably at least 2 or 3 more years down the road. ESPN will be looking at how the maketing the NHL is doing is working and in particular how the Crosby factor is equating into viewership and they might jump in if they think they can do it with the least chance of losing much in the process.
     
  9. Butch 19

    Butch 19 Go cart Mozart

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    For a game to actually get a "name" (like the Raiders/Jets Heidi game), enough people would have had to have been watching the game to make an uproar to the network, and that's not really the case here is it?
     
  10. HockeyCritter

    HockeyCritter Registered User

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    Why o why would the NHL want to go back to ESPN ... a network that couldn't even be bothered to show hockey until the second half of the season (and then bumping coverage more often than not)? :shakehead

    The VS deal is fine ...... the issue is not the contract, rather it is the fact VS isn't carried by some cable providers (being a Comcast company) ...... It would be in the League's best interest to pressure (as little as they have) cable companies into making VS available in more homes.
     
  11. steepler

    steepler Registered User

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    I'm not really advocating going back to ESPN, but what are yuo talking about ESPN not showing games until the second half of the season. ESPN showed plenty on hockey early in the season.
     
  12. Emerald City Bruin

    Emerald City Bruin I-90 W for 2500mi

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    Putting the all-star game on the weekend negates a weekend of regular games which is good for home team's attendance. It's the same reason MLB has theirs mid-week.
     
  13. HockeyCritter

    HockeyCritter Registered User

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    Not in the last few years ..... they show a game or three first half of the season, bumped them for baseball playoffs and basketball games and then moved the game of the week from Wednesday to Thursday to alternating Tuesdays. While I had ESPN, the problem was it was difficult to know exactly when a hockey was going to be (if at all) broadcast.

    With VS I know if I tune in Monday and Tuesday I will find a hockey game.

    While the main complaint regarding VS is the number of homes that have access (again a function of the cable companies and not the League) at least they have shown two hockey games every week (on the same days to boot) since the first week of the season ... additionally they have shown two hockey games each night durning the playoffs as well as extending air time devoted to hockey programming.

    VS may not be the "perfect" solution it is, however, a better solution than ESPN.

    Basically, until hockey fans start watching hockey on TV and start purchasing the sponsor's products, the NHL will always be given the short end of the broadcasting stick.

    The MLB all-star game has no competition from other sports .... not so in the case of the NHL.
     
  14. Spydey629

    Spydey629 Registered User

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    See: Every 3rd post I've written on here.

    ANYWAY...

    The Saturday night idea has pros and cons to it... MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL... all weekend AFTERNOON coverage on US Network TV. That being said, Saturday night is the lowest rated night of television. Would getting a 1.5 rating for a Pens/Rangers game be as bad as a 1.5 for reruns of Law & Order?

    Forget about putting any games of the SCF on cable... ALL SEVEN games must be on network TV for this League to be taken seriously again.

    ESPN (1,2,U,News) I don't care... shows a "National Hockey Night" Sunday game of the week, all season. Versus has an exclusive game on Tuesday, a double header each Thursday. NHL Network shows a game (TSN's?) every Wednesday. NBC picks up in January, with a game every Saturday, with at least one doubleheader per month.

    All-Star Friday on Versus. All-Star Game on Saturday on ESPN, the Saturday after NFL Conference Championships & before the Super Bowl.

    Playoffs... Every Game would be on TV, between ESPN, Versus, & the NHL Network. NBC with weekend double headers on "non-event" weekends. On event weekends, start games at noon EST or 1 EST to avoid another "Preakness"

    Conference Finals - One on ESPN, one Versus. NBC gets the weekends.

    Stanley Cup Final... ALL SEVEN GAMES ON NBC!!!

    As I've said before... Switch Vs. to TNT & copy the NBA's TV deal ver batim.


    Ya know... all this debate. Bettman is a genious. He's got all the talking heads at ESPN debating on NBC cutting away from the NHL. Free advertising... there truly is no such thing as bad publicity.
     
  15. kdb209

    kdb209 Registered User

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    Unfortunately, that reun of Law & Order gets more than a 1.5 - it gets 2-3x of that.

    http://www.tvweek.com/page.cms?pageId=10

    The last several weeks of Saturday night NBC Primetime Ratings (rating/share): 3.4/7, 3.8/8, 1.7/3 (three reruns of Heroes?), 3.3/6, 3.8/7, 4.4/8, 4.6/9, 4.4/8

    The other big problem with prime time sports broadcasts - starting times across Eastern/Central/Mountain/Pacific time zones. You either take the horrible approach of tape delay on the West Coast (which is what NBC does for the Olympics, Ugh), or you have start times too early (5-6PM) on the West Coast or way too late on the East Coast.

    The least unpalatable solution are the 5-6 PDT / 8-9 EDT starts, giving primetime coverage in the East, but early in the West. This screws the affiliates - some get the sports in prime time, others do not and have to use other programming as filler.
     
  16. Goallum

    Goallum Registered User

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    As far as I'm concerned, the NHL should not be on a major network in the US at all. It should be on ESPN2, with the game of the week and the last two rounds of the playoffs being on ESPN (not on ABC). By the time conference finals roll around, ESPN should have time slot availability because NBA should be mostly on ABC by then, and if not it can stay on ESPN2. If only the Cup Finals (or nothing at all) is on ESPN, that's fine with me too.

    If not on ESPN, at least on some other decent cable channel that most people get and that has an HD counterpart that most people get, like TNT (and unlike VS).

    With that being said, I could live with the NHL being only on VS, and I'd either suffer without HD or switch to Direct TV (assuming that they have VSHD, do they?). However, the negatives brought by having a few NHL games on NBC far outweigh the positives, IMO. That's why I think that the NHL should forget about trying to put itself on a major network focusing instead making sure that it has a good cable deal (like the hypothetical ESPN deal I described).
     
  17. LeafErikson

    LeafErikson Schwifty 24/7

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    Whatever the NHL does, it has to get itself into as many US households as it possibly can. Because in no way should it ever be acceptable that a game is shut off in favour of another program, especially a playoff game.
     
  18. tiredman

    tiredman Registered User

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    Exactly. :handclap:
     
  19. Bobby Orr

    Bobby Orr Guest

    Look what's listed for NBC's Saturday night for the Week of May 6:

    Special: Barbaro: A Nation’s Horse
    2.3-2.4 rating.

    Looks like Barbaro got his revenge. If I'm not mistaken, that's better than all of the SC Finals games last year, except game 7.

    It's rather apparent from looking at the pdf that the NHL does not belong on traditional network prime-time tv. (NBC/CBS/ABC+Fox)

    What's the CW? Is that the old WB? It has ratings that might be attainable for the NHL, at least on weekends, and should have a decent footprint. Other than that what's left as an option that can make sense ratings wise, and give you as large an availability as possible? SpikeTV? USA? A&E? Al Jazeera?
     
  20. Fish on The Sand

    Fish on The Sand Untouchable

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    Sunday afternoon is the time to have it.
     
  21. kdb209

    kdb209 Registered User

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    It was the league who decided to move the ASG to midweek.

    It was purely a decision of economics. The owners did not want to give up a weekend of home games - weekend games generate more revenues than weekday games, especially for teams with softer attendance.

    Any intangible benefit of "more exposure" in moving the ASG back to All Star Weekend, will likely be more than offset by a loss of real revenues. I don't see the league changing back any time soon.
     
  22. NJFlyer42

    NJFlyer42 Registered User

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    You are on the right track here. Although I would change some of the details, this is how the NHL should be thinking. I'd say USA Network and TNT are some other viable outlets. I would also allow VS to carry games exclusively IF they met an agreed upon goal of reaching a certain number of households. I'd also skew it a little bit more toward VS as far as prime games/playoffs and less toward ESPN. If VS is going to grow their network, IMO they need to have more of the good games/playoffs. Plus, they're the ones paying.

    As far as NBC goes, I happen to like their coverage overall, despite my outrage at Preakness-gate. I think moving to prime time on Sat. nights is a great idea. People are busy during the day on Sat. and can't always devote the time to watch. Once people know that the game is going to be on Sat. nights, I see the ratings going up. Look how successful ABC was with their Sat. college football. Part of it was because of the popularity, but a big part is also the time. None of the networks run their good, original programming on Sat. nights (other than SNL), so there's less competition.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2007
  23. Namso

    Namso Registered User

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    The nba does have something similar to this.

    They have games on ABC, ESPN and TNT.

    However, the NHL just doesnt have the ratings power to make it work.
     
  24. mucker*

    mucker* Guest

    Great idea...but why would either ESPN or VS do it?
    The NHL does not have the power to sell it to both networks, they get so little ratings they need exlusivity, you put them on two networks, it cuts both auidences.

    I would love it...but not going to happen...I wish.
     
  25. mucker*

    mucker* Guest

    Except during the playoffs...once it gets warm in the spring..especially the first weeks NOBODY wants to spend their Sunday afternoons inside.
     

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