It’s not even the worst kept secret in sports anymore, because it’s been the worst kept secret in sports so long. The NHL, in conjunction with the NHLPA, is going to stage a World Cup at some point in September of 2016. It will be held entirely in Toronto (past World Cups had been staged in multiple countries at a time) and feature eight teams, though whether they’re entirely countries or one or two all-star teams is yet to be determined.
What concerns us here at Awful Announcing is TV, so naturally, we’re curious as to how the TV (and streaming) rights will be divvied up. Especially since the NHL has gone for a complete monopoly between NBC in the United States and Rogers in Canada for its league rights. TSN’s Rick Westmead suggests that those two entities aren’t automatic to air the tournament right off the bat:
A person familiar with the matter told TSN that the eight-team tournament, which is scheduled to be held in September 2016, will raise about half its revenue from the sale of broadcast and internet streaming rights. The NHL and NHLPA have predicted those rights may garner close to $50 million.
NHL senior vice president John Collins said it’s too early to say how much cash the league and NHLPA will generate.
“We are not at the finish line yet on the WC,” Collins wrote in an email. “More meetings still needed with PA and federations. Premature to comment on any specifics.”
NHLPA spokesman Jon Weatherdon declined to comment.
The NHL and NHLPA will hold an auction for the 17-game tournament’s TV rights. In Canada, that means TSN, Sportsnet and CBC are all expected to bid for the property.
It’s a gamble to spend so much on a tournament like the World Cup when there’s no guarantee Team Canada will advance beyond the round robin portion. But if it does, there could be a big payoff in TV ratings. The final of the World Cup will be a best-of-three format, TSN has learned.
If CBC and TSN are going to be able to bid on the tournament in Canada… doesn’t that then mean any network in the United States can bid on it as well? Would NBCSN be pitted against Fox Sports 1 and ESPN and whomever else wanted to bid on the World Cup?
It’s hard to see, given the long-term ownership of NHL rights they have, Rogers and NBC not winning the rights to the World Cup. But it’s a fascinating idea, especially in Canada. ESPN and Fox probably — given their deluge of college football when the tourney would be going on — abstain from overpaying for the tourney. TSN and CBC, wouldn’t, however, and would likely make this a real bidding war against Rogers, especially if TSN and CBC were to partner up.
So… how awkward will this get? If TSN or even ESPN won the rights, Rogers and NBC would obviously feel slighted over the whole ordeal, but… they’d still have years and years of exclusive rights to the NHL product? What if Rogers and NBC are even forced to overpay for the rights? Would that strain their relationship with the league? The NHL has every right to do this, but it’ll be interesting to see where it goes.