Last week NBC announced their plans to shut down NBCSN at the end of the year. In the deal, NBC announced it would be moving the NHL, NASCAR, EPL to the USA Network. In addition, other programs along with some sports programs will be moving to NBC’s new streaming service Peacock. The first question that popped into everyone’s head is how this move will affect the upcoming negotiations for the NHL’s TV rights. And it is a fair question to ask considering the NHL has been on NBC for the last 10 years. Let’s take a look at how the NHL on NBC could be altered with NBC dropping NBCSN.
NBC Dropping NBCSN Benefits NHL
As previously mentioned the NHL has been with NBC for the last 10 years. However, at the end of this season, the television rights are up. We know the NHL wants to get a better TV deal that pays them similarly to what the NBA makes because their current TV deal with NBC is not very good. However, the NHL has been with them for a long time dating back to the dates of the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) and Versus. And just like with most partnerships there have been some rocky roads in between but NBC has helped the NHL in the United States dramatically.
Introduced several years ago, NBC utilized all their channels not just NBCSN to broadcast the Stanley Cup Playoffs giving fans access to all the games nationally. This was a huge step. Never before could fans in the United States have access to every Stanley Cup Playoff game. Usually, it was the games on the local station along with games on NBC and NBCSN. But what NBC and the NHL discovered is that reached more households going onto other channels like USA Network and CNBC. Which meant more advertising revenue coming.
As Pierre McGuire stated on TSN Radio in Montreal if anything if the NHL were to stay with NBC as a TV partner, being on NBC and USA Network only benefit the league in the long run.
McGuire on TSN690 says NBC shutting down NBCSN was a smart decision, the properties will be moved to CNBC, Golf Channel, USA Network, Peacock streaming, which has 27M subscriptions
He says USA Network is in every hotel in the United States, also 87M homes have it, 80M had NBCSN.
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) January 26, 2021
Negotiations For New TV Deal
Going back to the original question about this move affecting TV rights negotiations. Most likely this would. Considering other networks not just NBC are bidding on the rights. Not to mention this could alter things from an NBC side as well. It all depends on where they see the NHL fitting into the grand scheme of things. However, considering the success of the NHL on NBC, you have to imagine that NBC will want to keep the NHL in some way or form. Whether it is just national weekend games only or streaming through Peacock. The NHL knows it has a product the networks want. There is the potential of having two or three US TV partners for the next television deal. As ESPN and Fox are in the mix. Not to mention the streaming rights. And speaking of streaming rights that leads to the next point.
How Does WWE Network Factor Into This?
This is a very important question to ask. Because as we know Peacock just paid $1 Billion dollars to become the exclusive streaming home of the WWE Network in the United States. That is a ton of money for a product that has about 1.1 million subscribers. Granted NBC Universal is not going away anytime soon so they can spend this time of money to bolster their streaming service. But as we have seen with other companies like ESPN, when they overpay for a product, they usually end up regretting it in the long run and will pull back their spending in other areas and won’t bid on sports rights.
However, this probably will not affect the NHL on NBC negotiations that much, but they may offer less, as they have spent a ton on another product for their streaming service.
Regardless of what happens next for the NHL on NBC, their partnership has definitely changed. And if the NHL does stay with NBC in some form it will only benefit them in the long term.
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