Turner and the NHL officially announced their seven-year TV deal on Tuesday, which will begin this fall with the 2021-22 season. Turner joins ESPN as the NHL’s TV partners, replacing NBC, who had been on board with the league for the last decade and a half. While neither party (understandably) released the yearly fee Turner is paying, the Sports Business Journal tabbed it at $1.575 billion over the seven years, which comes out to $225 million per season. Added to the $400 million per season that ESPN is reportedly paying, and that’s a cool $625 million per season for the NHL, more than double what they were currently getting from NBC and ESPN (which cut a deal paying $100 million per year with the NHL for streaming stuff years back).
Anyway, in their announcement, Turner and the NHL spelled out many of the details of the rights agreement, which I’ll outline below.
- Turner gets three Stanley Cup Finals in the seven year deal, which will air on TNT.
- “Up to 72” national exclusive games per season.
- The Winter Classic will air each year on TNT.
- Half of the Stanley Cup Playoffs each year (again, hoping they just alternate conferences with ESPN like they do with the NBA), airing on TBS and TNT.
- Streaming and simulcast rights for HBO Max.
- Bleacher Report will do their digital and highlight thing for hockey.
Alright, so between the Turner and ESPN deals, this is what hockey fans have to look forward to next season.
- Alternating Stanley Cup Finals on ABC and TNT.
- 25 exclusive national games on ABC/ESPN, up to 72 exclusive national games on (unspecified) Turner networks, another 75 games on ESPN+/Hulu.
- Stanley Cup Playoffs evenly split between ESPN’s networks and Turner’s networks each year.
- HBO Max will presumably be simulcasting Turner’s exclusive and playoff games, though that wasn’t directly stated.
- Out of market games exclusively moving to ESPN+ from NHL.TV.
- Winter Classic on TNT.
- Opening Night, All-Star Game, Skills Challenge on ESPN platforms.
If this feels a lot to you like the NBA’s TV deals with ESPN and Turner, you’re not alone in feeling that way. Like with the NBA, ESPN and Turner split the playoffs each year. One network gets the All-Star Game and related events. One network runs the out-of-market package (Turner operates NBA League Pass, while NHL.TV is being absorbed into ESPN+). Each network has exclusive national games, presumably on given nights throughout the regular season. One difference here is that both partners get some Finals, though; ABC/ESPN gets all of the NBA Finals under the current deals there.
We’re still months away from the start of the 2021-22 NHL season, and we’ll undoubtedly learn more about each TV deal in the coming months. But for now, at least we know which TV partners the NHL will have, and that gives us something to look forward to and think about.