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FREE | NHL Data Report, 2019

In the latest interactive monthly data report, SportBusiness Media analyses the media-rights landscape of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Further detail on the deals covered in this interactive data report is available with our Rights Tracker tool – click here for more information.

Global NHL worth $1.2bn in 2018

National Hockey League media-rights revenues in 2018 amounted to nearly $1.2bn (€1.08bn). This accounted for the vast majority, around 85 per cent of global ice hockey’s $1.4bn media-rights income last year, which itself represented 2.9 per cent of the global sports-rights market, according to the 2018 SportBusiness Consulting Global Report.

NHL media rights revenues have had a compound annual growth rate of about 3.3 per cent since 2014 according to the same report.

 

Domestic double

The NHL has two major domestic-rights deals as the league spans both the US and Canada. Its current agreements – in Canada with telco Rogers and the US with television network NBC – are worth a combined $617m per year and run until into the next decade.

The agreement in Canada with Rogers is worth more than double its rights agreement in the US with NBC.

In Canada, the NHL sold rights to the telco from 2014-15 to 2025-26, for about $417m per season. This was an increase of 154 per cent on the previous deal with public service broadcaster CBC and telco Bell Media, from 2008-09 to 2013-14, worth about $164m per season combined.

Rogers are exploiting the rights through its Sportsnet channels. Bell Media exploited the rights through its TSN and RDS channels.

NBC’s 10-season deal with the NHL in the US, from 2011-12 to 2020-21 is worth about $200m per season. This was an increase of about 156 per cent on its previous deal with pay-television broadcaster Versus, from 2008-09 to 2010-11, worth about $78m per year. Versus was owned by US media company Comcast, which acquired NBC in 2011, and then re-branded Versus under the NBC Sports Network.

NBC also held rights in the 2010-11 season but did not pay a rights fee. They shared advertising revenue after production costs, with the NHL.

 

International insignificance

The IMG agency advises the NHL on all international media-rights sales. IMG’s deal covers all territories excluding the US, Canada and the Nordics, from 2016-17 to 2020-21.

The most valuable deal outside the US and Canada was agreed in the Nordics. Commercial and pay-television broadcaster Nent Group, at the time part of Modern Times Group, agreed an exclusive five-season deal, from 2016-17 to 2020-21, with the league. Nent also held rights in the previous cycle, from 2011-12 to 2015-16.

In China, Chinese internet company Tencent has a six-season deal for digital rights, from 2016-17 to 2021-2022.

UK pay-television broadcaster Premier Sports has a five-season deal for NHL rights, from 2016-17 to 2020-21, in a deal advised by the IMG agency. Premier Sports’ previous five-season deal for NHL rights was with the Advisers Media International agency and ran from 2011-12 to 2015-16.

Most recent

The English Premier League effectively softened its opposition to joint bids in its 2019-20 to 2021-22 rights sale in the Caribbean, agreeing a deal with a company specifically set up for the acquisition by telco Cable & Wireless Communications and mobile operator Digicel, the two main players in the region.

Match-choice restrictions placed by Spain’s LaLiga on the free-to-air package in its UK and Ireland rights tenders for the 2019-22 cycle may limit interest from broadcasters, according to industry experts spoken to by SportBusiness Media.

Pay-television broadcaster BT Sport took advantage of Sky’s long-running concerns over wrestling body WWE’s OTT service to grab WWE rights in the UK and Ireland from its rival at a steep discount, SportBusiness Media understands.

As TikTok has grown into one of the world's most popular social-media apps during the past year, the short-form video-sharing platform has become an important tool for sports rights-holders to expand and engage their fanbases.