By Barry Janoff
November 26, 2013: The NHL, which in 2011 signed a ten-year, deal with NBC Sports Group valued at $2 billion, has now taken care of business north of the border.
In what the league called a "landmark" alliance, the NHL on Tuesday (Nov. 26) unveiled a 12-year, $4.9 billion ($5.2 billion Canadian) agreement with Rogers Communications for broadcast and multimedia rights in Canada.
The agreement is the "largest media-rights deal in NHL history and one of the largest media rights deals in Canadian history, including the largest-ever sports-media rights agreement," according to the NHL and Rogers Communications.
"Rogers Communications should be commended for their aggressiveness and strategy," Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner, said during a media conference also attended by Nadir Mohamed, president and CEO for Rogers Communications; Rogers Media president Keith Pelley and Canadian Broadcasting Corp. president and CEO Hubert Lacroix. "This is something that came together very quickly."
Rogers said it would use its digital technology to stream games on the Internet, wireless and mobile devices, and satellite radio. Rogers will operate NHL Center Ice and NHL GameCenter Live in Canada.
"Think of this like coverage of the Olympics, where if many sports are on at the same time fans can pick the network and event they want to watch," Bettman said. "If there are four or five games on at the same time, fans can pick the game and [platform] they want to watch. This is pro fan."
The deal takes effect with the 2014-15 season and runs through the 2025-26 season.
It remains subject to approval by the NHL's Board of Governors, which is scheduled to meet Dec. 9-10 (in Pebble Beach, Calif.).
"The NHL is extremely excited about the power and potential of this groundbreaking partnership," Bettman said in a statement. "Our fans always want to explore deeper and more emotional connections to NHL hockey, and that is precisely what Rogers has promised to deliver over the next 12 years — channeling the reach of its platforms and the intensity of its passion for the game into an unparalleled viewing experience."
According to both sides, the pact gives Rogers national Canadian rights to all NHL games, including the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Stanley Cup Final, on all of its platforms in all languages. It also encompasses exclusive rights in Canada to such special events as the NHL All-Star Games and NHL drafts. A new Sunday night national broadcast would feature marquee match-ups.
As part of the agreement, Rogers said that, via sub-licensing deals, the CBC would continue to broadcast Hockey Night in Canada and that privately owned French language station TVA would handle all of the Canadian French-language multi-media telecasts and content.
According to Mohamed, "Sports content is a key strategic asset and we've been investing significantly to strengthen our sports offering to Canadians. Canadians are passionate about hockey, and through this landmark partnership with the NHL we'll be able to bring hockey fans more games and more content on their platform of choice."
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