CLEVELAND, Ohio — The NHL on ESPN is a thing again.
ESPN parent Disney and the National Hockey League announced a seven-year TV deal Wednesday that will bring professional hockey back to the network for the first time since 2005. The agreement also calls for select games to be broadcast on ABC and streamed on ESPN+ and Hulu starting next season.
• Sign up for the Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+ bundle for $12.99 a month (price increases to $13.99 starting March 26)
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“This agreement clearly underscores The Walt Disney Company’s leadership in the sports media landscape and serves as a blueprint for sports deals in the future,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a release. “We know the power of the NHL and are thrilled to welcome it back as a significant new pillar across our platforms, and we look forward to connecting more deeply and directly with some of the sports world’s most passionate fans.”
The deal “sets a new standard in delivering our game to the most passionate and tech-savvy fans in sports in the ways they now demand and on the platforms they use,” added NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
The package calls for 25 regular-season games to be nationally televised games on ESPN or ABC. In addition, ESPN+ and Hulu’s 51 million combined subscribers will be able to stream 75 more games. ABC/ESPN will also air half of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while ABC gets exclusive rights to the Stanley Cup Finals for four of the seven years of the contract. Disney properties will air opening night games, the NHL All-Star Game and Skills Challenge and other special league events, too. ESPN+ will replace NHL.tv as the streaming home for out-of-market games.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed but according to The Atheltic, ESPN will pay the NHL more than $400 million per year. NBC, the league’s main broadcast partner since 2005, remains in talks along with Fox for the secondary TV rights, USA Today reported.