Would you rather be the biggest fish in a small pond or a medium-sized fish in a lake? That's the fundamental question NHL executives recently struggled with as they decided between extending their contract with Versus or returning to ESPN. In the end, the NHL stayed put in a move that will surely cause great debate among ardent fans.
The contract runs though 2021 and at a total value of nearly two billion dollars, it represents a huge increase in revenue for the booming National Hockey League. As has been the case in previous seasons, NBC will also run approximately ten regular season games a year as part of the agreement while Versus will up its broadcast total to ninety.
According to ESPN, the ratings across Versus and NBC have both been on the rise, and that's clearly evidenced by the increased monetary and time commitments from the two parties. Now an NBC affiliate, Versus will continue to carry games three and four of the Stanley Cup finals while NBC will broadcast the other five.
While jumping to ESPN would have certainly increased the league's profile for non-fans, it also would have decreased the total hours of coverage. Each week, ESPN televises NFL, NBA and MLB games in addition to college basketball, college football and a host of other minor sports. The NHL would have been just one of many, but on Versus, hockey is without question the main focus. In the end, that was clearly more important to the league.
Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.
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