NHL, ESPN reach 7-year broadcast deal reportedly worth over $2.8B
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.
ESPN hasn't aired NHL games since before the 2004-05 lockout, but it was involved in broadcasting the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.