While the national television ratings for the National Hockey League‘s Stanley Cup Finals leave much to be desired in the United States of America, there is still good news regarding NHL broadcast rights.
The NHL has announced a new three-year deal with Eurovision to broadcast games in Russia, where the fervor for watching hockey on TV is much more effective. The deal gives Eurovision sole rights to broadcast NHL games in Russia, along with exclusive streaming rights in Russia as well, utilizing its existing Eurosport Player platform.
This is the same network that has exclusive broadcast rights for the next two Winter Olympic games in Europe, and is known in Europe as a premiere source of sports programming. Next season will be the first time that NHL games have been broadcast on Eurovision anywhere.
The value of the deal has not been disclosed by either party, but this is another step toward making the NHL’s brand of hockey an international product. The NHL is unique when compared to the National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association because of the high concentration of its players who are native to Europe.
While there are no hints from either party about possible expansion of NHL broadcasts into other European markets in the future, this three-year deal in Russia can act as a “trial.” If the broadcasts do well in the Russian television audience, the two parties could then be expected to negotiate a new contract after the 2018-19 season which will expand the market.
While the NHL is nothing new to Russian sports fans, as many current and former NHL players are Russian-born, the game on television has never been as accessible to as many Russians as it will be starting with the 2016-17 season. If Eurovision’s broadcasts do well, the international TV market for the NHL could grow exponentially.
Main Photo: WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 04: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals smiles against the New York Islanders at the Verizon Center on February 4, 2014 in Washington, DC. The New York Islanders won, 1-0. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)