Earlier this year, the NHL announced a long-term agreement with Disney and ESPN for the “A” package of their multimedia broadcast rights. The other portion of the rights, deemed the “B” package, was still involved in a bidding process that included the incumbent broadcaster NBC, Fox Sports, and CBS. Seemingly at the last minute, Turner Sports entered the fray and have signed a seven-year agreement with the NHL that will begin in the 2021-22 season. The agreement brings the Stanley Cup Playoffs to TNT and TBS for the first time, while also including up to 72 regular season games and the Winter Classic each season.
TNT will have live coverage of three Stanley Cup Finals over the seven years and half of the playoffs each season. The agreement also includes streaming and digital rights for HBO Max. League commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement on the deal:
Turner Sports is known for its outstanding sports coverage, quality and innovation and we are thrilled that this new partnership will provide our fans with the content they love on the platforms and devices of their choice. TNT is a proven and acclaimed destination for sports fans and we will also benefit from the deep connection Bleacher Report has with young digital-savvy fans. Having WarnerMedia join the NHL family as co-rightsholders for the next seven years gives us incredible reach, positions us well for the future as the media landscape continues to evolve, and will fuel continued growth for the NHL and our Clubs.
This means that the NHL is leaving NBC entirely starting next season. The new pair of agreements are expected to nearly triple the broadcast revenue for the NHL, giving it a good start on climbing its way out of the hole dug by the COVID-19 pandemic. That doesn’t mean the cap will rise right away, it is still expected to stay flat for a few more seasons, but it does help plot a path to financial stability for the league and eventually, an increased cap ceiling.
The Stanley Cup Final will be on ABC in 2022, 2024, 2026, and 2028, while Turner will have the rights for 2023, 2025, and 2027.