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Thursday, July 14, 2005

nhl- Talking Cable

from Media Life, The NHL and the players' association have agreed to end their 306-day lockout. Now hockey's big challenge is finding a new national cable TV partner.
Should it fail, the already battered sport may risk a slip into total oblivion, with fans already angry over the lockout and advertisers feeling burned by the canceled season.
In May, ESPN, which had carried the hockey league since 1992, declined an option worth a reported $60 million in rights fees for the 2005-06 season. The league does have a revenue-sharing broadcast agreement with NBC, but that is for only a limited number of games plus the Stanley Cup Finals. Most games are carried on regional sports networks such as FSN, NESN or YES.
"With exception of the broadcast networks, ESPN is like being in the cannon of legitimate sports events," says Bob Thompson, the director of Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University. "Losing ESPN is like you suddenly lost a major American seal of approval."
Neal Pilson, the former head of CBS Sports and now the president of Pilson Communications, tells Media Life he thinks the league will work out a cable deal.
"I know there are cable carriers that want to carry the NHL," he says. "I'm confident the league will have a national contract."
After months of worrying whether there would even be a 2005-06 season, the NHL can now turn its attention to getting that contract....more...