Breaking Sports

Friday, May 27, 2005

nhl- More on the ESPN Decision

via TSN, The National Hockey League's pocket book has taken another hit.
Sources tell TSN that American cable sports giant ESPN will decline their option to retain their NHL broadcast rights for next season. The option to retain their national cable rights was for $60 million US.
ESPN has declined to comment on the matter, but the decision is expected to be officially announced next week.
The league is now free to negotiate with any other US cable network, including ESPN who may try to negotiate a new deal at a lesser cost.
The NHL announced its cable agreement with ESPN last May, worth half the $120 million US a season it made under the five-year, $600-million deal that expired with ABC/ESPN after the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. Both sides reached a one-year agreement with options for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons in May 2004.
While ESPN and ESPN2 covered a plethora of games during its previous contract, the new deal called for ESPN2 to air just 40 regular-season contests. The cable sports network also held exclusive rights to the conference finals and the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.
The league also signed a two-year deal with NBC last year, which had the same type of revenue-sharing agreement the network has with the Arena Football League. Under the agreement, NBC would take the first portion of income from advertising to cover production expenses, while the NHL takes the next portion and the two split additional revenue equally.
The regular-season ratings on ABC have declined 21 per cent since the 2001-02 season while last year's Stanley Cup final ratings were down 21 per cent from 1999-2000.