NBCUniversal has decided to cap a 16-year relationship with the National Hockey League, according to two people familiar with the matter, walking away from negotiations with the league, which is poised to triple the rights fees it collects from media companies with a new deal for a package it will launch with AT&T’s Turner Sports.
Turner will share overall rights with Disney’s ESPN, which struck a seven-year deal with the NHL in March that will give it control over a larger share of national games and other NHL properties. All told, these people suggested, Turner is likely to pay around $200 million a year for its NHL package, and ESPN is believed to be paying around $600 million — a tripling of the $200 million per year that NBC was paying the league for sole control of TV rights.
Turner and NBCU declined to make executives available for comment. An NHL spokesperson could not be reached for immediate comment. The aforementioned decisions have yet to be finalized these people cautioned, and could still change. Sports Business Journal previously reported some of the details.
An NHL rights deal would represent the most significant expansion of Turner’s sports portfolio in some time. Turner shares control of rights for NCAA March Madness with CBS and NBA rights with ESPN. The WarnerMedia unit recently renewed a deal for a package of games from Major League Baseball and has been working to build out its own celebrity golf tournament called “The Match.” But with parent AT&T looking to pare down its debt, Turner has not been expected to be a buyer of big sports packages in the recent past.
More to come….