NHL Scores Center Ice Deals

Cable and satellite hockey fans will continue to receive the NHL Center Ice out-of-market sports package as part of distribution renewal deals reached between the pro league and In Demand, DirecTV and Echostar Communications’ Dish Network.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The package enables fans to watch up to 1,000 NHL regular-season games – many of which will be offered in high-definition – as well as select contests from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

While the league would not reveal specific 2006-07 subscriber figures for the package, SNL Kagan reported that Center Ice attracted about 235,000 subscribers during the 2005-06 season.

In Demand will offer the Center Ice package for a suggested retail price of $169 for the full season and $119 for a half season to subscribers to systems controlled by its owners Cox, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, as well as other affiliated providers, according to the company.

DirecTV and EchoStar did not reveal specific pricing for the package, which will be offered free through Oct. 9.

“Every night can be a hockey night with up to 40 games available per week through NHL Center Ice,” said Jody Shapiro, NHL group vice president, television and media ventures, in a statement. “We are thrilled to renew our distribution deals with DirecTV, Dish Network, and In Demand Networks to best serve our fans.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.