Wednesday, August 10, 2005

National TV deal completed

The NHL and media giant Comcast have reached a two-year, $100-million deal to nationally televise NHL hockey.

This, on the heels of ESPN declining its option to continue their previous agreement, is a good sign for the rebirth of the NHL. There have always been lingering doubts about the draw of an admittedly regional sport on American national television; those doubts, however, are well tempered by the valid questions over the quality of ESPN's broadcasts. Several NHL executives, including fiery Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider, lambasted ESPN for being "poor for hockey": it seemed, frequently, that they were trying to make the network the star of the broadcast, as opposed to the players and the game itself.

Another shot in the arm of ESPN is Comcast has recently expressed interest in launching a national sports network akin to them -- quite obviously a rival; many expect this to replace Comcast's existing Outdoor Life Network, which is likely to air their hockey coverage until this launch is underway.

Should ESPN determine this threat to their sports programming hegemony to great to ignore, they have a right to match Comcast's offer.

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