NHL, ESPN reach 7-year broadcast deal reportedly worth over $2.8B

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The NHL is officially returning to "The Worldwide Leader."

ESPN has signed a seven-year deal to become an NHL broadcast partner, the league announced Wednesday. The network will pay the NHL more than $400 million per season over the life of the deal, reports The Athletic's Sean Shapiro.

The pact - which also involves ESPN's parent company Disney - gives ESPN exclusive rights to broadcast four Stanley Cup Finals on ABC between 2022 and 2028, along with the ability to simulcast on the ESPN+ streaming service and other ESPN properties.

It will guarantee 25 regular-season games nationally broadcast exclusively on either ABC or ESPN, 75 regular-season contests streamed exclusively on ESPN+ and Hulu, and broadcasts of half of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on either ABC or ESPN every season. It also includes coverage rights for All-Star festivities, opening night, and other special events, as well as highlights.

The agreement also affects the league's out-of-market streaming capabilities in the U.S. The package featuring over 1,000 games per season formerly available on NHL.tv will now only be accessible with an ESPN+ subscription.

ESPN will also be bringing back the beloved theme music it first used in 1992.

NBC is in the final season of a 10-year pact with the NHL and paying about $200 million per campaign for U.S. broadcasting rights.

The NHL is still seeking a second U.S. broadcast partner for the other three Stanley Cup Finals from 2022-28 and additional streaming rights, reports Sportsnet's Chris Johnston. NBC could conceivably sign another broadcasting agreement with the league.

"We are still talking to (NBC)," Bettman said Wednesday, according to Variety's Brian Steinberg. He added: "Of course they are under consideration."

ESPN hasn't aired NHL games since before the 2004-05 lockout, but it was involved in broadcasting the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

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NHL, ESPN reach 7-year broadcast deal reportedly worth over $2.8B
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