The NHL announced today that they have extended their contract with Versus and NBC for an additional ten years. The deal is reportedly worth about two billion dollars over the life of the contract.
Peanuts if you ask me. NBC and Versus have a very small relationship with the NHL. For the sheer volume of games that the NHL plays, the coverage for NBC and Versus is intangible. If the NHL ever wants to make itself look like a serious player in the professional sports world, they are going to need a television rights deal that is much stronger than a deal with NBC and Versus.
Under the deal NBC will carry a game of the week, and cover the Winter Classic. Versus will also have a game of the week with rights to cover the All Star Game. The Conference Semi-Finals and Stanley Cup Finals will be seen on those two networks exclusively.
If you ask me the NHL is missing out on putting its games on prime time television nationwide every night of the week. All you are doing is taking a home town broadcast away from fans that will now have to suffer the story telling announcers that cover the games when it comes time to NBC and Versus. While you might have time during a round of golf, or a bull riding adventure or a football game to get into story telling mode, the game of hockey is much too fast to relive the glory days while play is going on.
In related news, Versus will again be changing their name. In the next sixty days you will see a name change for the sports channel that will clearly make Versus an affiliate of NBC.