Outdoor Life snatches hockey from ESPN

Cabler pays $200 million for three-year deal

Comcast’s Outdoor Life Network has outbid ESPN for the exclusive cable-TV rights to National Hockey League games, shelling out a reported $200 million or so for a three-year deal.

ESPN had the right to match the offer, but in a statement George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN, citing the loss of the entire 2004-05 NHL season due to a work stoppage and the poor Nielsen ratings of league games over the past decade, said that “no financial model even remotely supports the contractual terms offered” by the NHL.

A spokesman for ESPN said that OLN “is absolutely setting itself up as a competitor to ESPN,” which, along with its siblings ESPN2, ESPN Classic and others, is the only national distributed cable-sports operation in the U.S.

The spokesman said the NHL, trying to recover from the lost season, is also taking a risk in putting its games on a network that reaches only 63.8-million subscribers compared to the 89.2 million that get ESPN2 ( which would’ve carried all of the regular season games) and the 90.2 million subs receiving ESPN (which would’ve covered many of the post-season contests).

OLN is now likely to make a major push to win the rights to a package of post-Thanksgiving primetime National Football League games to be played on either Thursday or Saturday, beginning in 2006.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Scene News from Variety

Loading