The NHL and WarnerMedia’s Turner Sports have officially announced a seven-year multimedia rights deal. The deal come following news that NBC had pulled out of bidding for the second rights package on Monday, ending the 10-year partnership between the NHL and NBC. Turner will pay the NHL $225 million per year for the rights, on top of the $400 million a year deal between the NHL and ESPN back in March.
The National Hockey League and Turner Sports, a division of @WarnerMedia, have reached an historic seven-year multimedia rights agreement.@NHLdotcom has more ➡️ https://t.co/aFVc7DPs8m pic.twitter.com/M3hBWmBiGt— NHL (@NHL) April 27, 2021
Turner Sports already has rights agreements with MLB and the NBA which will allow for cross-promotion of the sports. According to Octagon media executive Dan Cohen, “Since Turner missed out on the PGA Tour’s media rights, you knew they had to add a fourth pillar to their sports portfolio.” Beginning the 2021-22 season, Turner will be able to air 72 regular-season games with rights to the yearly NHL Winter Classic for the first time on TNT or TBS. Additionally, they will split half of the postseason games with ESPN, which will include first and second-round conference finals. They will air three Stanley Cup Final series during the seven years: 2023, 2025, and 2027. ABC is set to air the Stanley Cup Final series in 2022, 2024, 2026 and 2028.
WarnerMedia also gains rights to live streaming and simulcasts which includes HBO Max on multiple devices, bringing hockey into the future even more so by being accessible on another streaming platform. Bleacher Report, owned by Turner, will also have rights to use NHL highlights on its digital platform which according to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will be beneficial “from the deep connection Bleacher Report has with young digital-savvy fans.” He went on to say that:
Turner Sports is known for its outstanding sports coverage, quality and innovation and we are thrilled that this new partnership will provide our fans with the content they love on the platforms and devices of their choice [...] Having WarnerMedia join the NHL family as co-rightsholders for the next seven years gives us incredible reach, positions us well for the future as the media landscape continues to evolve, and will fuel continued growth for the NHL and our Clubs. (Warner Media)
While the NHL loses its coverage on NBC, it shifts more towards cable which not all fans have. The deal will last through the 2027-28 hockey season alongside ESPN. Live game and studio coverage details, along with programming plans, are to be announced. The NHL is tentatively planning to begin the 2021-22 season on October 12th which would be about a week later start for an 82-game season.