The National Hockey League will team with WarnerMedia's Turner Sports to distribute live NHL games -- including the Stanley Cup Finals -- beginning with the 2021-22 season, both parties announced Tuesday.
The seven-year deal will give TNT and TBS rights to NHL post-season games, including the Stanley Cup Finals, as well as live streaming rights for HBO Max. The deal completes the NHL’s television rights package, which also includes a seven-year deal with the Walt Disney Company and ESPN reached last month. It also ices out NBC, which has carried NHL games since 2005.
“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,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "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.”
As part of the deal, TNT will air the Stanley Cup Finals in three of the seven years and half of the Stanley Cup Playoffs games each year. TNT will also air 72 exclusive national regular season games each season. The network will also exclusively present the NHL Winter Classic each year. The deal gives Turner Sports rights to three of the four major sports leagues -- the NHL, NBA and Major League Baseball -- as well as the March Madness men's college basketball tournament, which it shares with CBS.
“This agreement with the National Hockey League brings one of the most prestigious championships in sports to TNT and fuels our entire Turner Sports and Bleacher Report portfolio with even more premium content for many years to come,” WarnerMedia News & Sports chairman Jeff Zucker said in a statement. “We’re delighted to spotlight the world’s best hockey league on our leading networks, while continuing to further elevate this marquee property through an ever-expanding array of digital platforms in the years to come.”
On the digital side, HBO Max will have live streaming and simulcast rights to NHL games, while Turner Sports will have TV Everywhere rights, allowing its networks to make games and related programming available to authenticated subscribers across all WarnerMedia platforms. Zucker said during a Tuesday conference call that HBO Max will not air live games right away but rather later into the deal.
"What we're really focused on here as we begin are the Turner Networks," he said. "What we are excited about is that we do have optionality to put these games on HBO Max as well, and that will happen in the years to come. But for now the focus will be on the Turner Networks."
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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.