Nhl Broadcast Deal: Oln?

Lynne Kiesling

There’s a rumor circulating that Comcast and the National Hockey League are on the verge of a broadcast agreement. The purported deal would involve two games per week on OLN. It’s not clear what other games would be allowed to be televised, although there is another outstanding agreement with NBC for some games late in the season.

One reason this OLN strategy might make sense for Comcast/OLN is the substitute argument that is being floated by several folks today: with Lance Armstrong retiring from the Tour de France, OLN can no longer be the “Only Lance Network” and the channel will have to find other content. If this argument holds, and more hockey fans subscribe than cycling fans unsubscribe, then revenues increase.

Another reason this strategy could be attractive is what I think of as the portfolio strategy. From a US audience perspective, both cycling and hockey are niche sports (oddly, they are two of my three favorite sports, with soccer being the other … OK, so I’m not representative!). Hockey plus cycling offers a portfolio that gives each fan sufficient coverage during their respective seasons that they are willing to keep the subscription even during the off-season. Add to that the probability that there are more fans like me, who are both cycling and hockey fans, then their subscriptions increase and, hopefully, by more than they have to pay for the broadcast rights.

But only two games per week … seems slim to me. Is it worth it to me to subscribe for only two games per week? Why isn’t the NHL offering more? Have they done market research to determine if there’s sufficient value in offering more?

I’d also like it if they got rights to women’s soccer, US and European. But that might be too small a niche!


12 thoughts on “Nhl Broadcast Deal: Oln?

  1. “But only two games per week … seems slim to me. Is it worth it to me to subscribe for only two games per week? Why isn’t the NHL offering more? Have they done market research to determine if there’s sufficient value in offering more?”

    Two games per week does seem slim, but how many soccer games does ESPN offer per week? I know they have soccer Saturday (which I usually watch) and so there is at least that one game. How many CONCACAF games did ESPN show? None, as far as I know.

  2. This blog has definitely everything to please me. Your look at current events from a libertarian perspective is totally great, it’s the least I can say. Add to that the fact that you like hockey, plus a couple of words in french here and there and you have the perfect blog. It’s my first visit but certainly not the last. Very well done.

    An economist from Montreal

  3. Lawrence:

    Yes. Instead of boards, snow will be swept to the sides to form the rink. You will be given two minutes for any pucks lost in the snow before bringing out a new puck (perfect timing for commercials). Each team will go to its own open hut at halftime, where they can warm themselves around a fireplace and drink hot cocoa. Fans will be discouraged from throwing snowballs at the players (by their teammates on the sidelines swinging their hockey sticks at the offending fans).

  4. OLN is a good fit for the NHL. OLN is actually owned by Comcast, which is the parent company for the Philadelphia Flyers. OLN also has a Canadian version, and apparently Comcast is looking to bring the NHL Network to the United States through their Canadian connections.

    By the way, don’t be surprised if, at some time down the road, OLN stops calling itself “Outdoor Life”. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pull a Spike TV number and rename themselves CSN (Comcast Sports Network) – especially if they get the late-season NFL cable package in 2006.

  5. I hope that the Flyers connection doesn’t mean that we get a disproportionate number of Flyers games on the national 2-games-per-week broadcasts! I am very much *not* a Flyers fan. All the more reason to be psyched to have Recchi and LeClair on my team … !

  6. Hey I just have a Question. What if I have Direct TV and not Comcast will I have to buy Comcast to watch the NHL?

  7. I have Dish, and we have the Comcast local sports channel as part of our package, so I would think not.

    In my case, I just hope that Bill Wirtz isn’t such a crazed loon that he blocks Comcast from televising games involving teams other than the Blackhawks. But I’m not holding my breath.

  8. I have Dish, and we have the Comcast local sports channel as part of our package, so I would think not.

    In my case, I just hope that Bill Wirtz isn’t such a crazed loon that he blocks Comcast from televising games involving teams other than the Blackhawks. But I’m not holding my breath.

  9. I have Dish as well. If you are a Chicago sports fan (Hawks, Cubs, Sox), you are pretty much captive to CoNcast Sportsnet Chicago since the three teams gave them TV rights to this market. It’s available on Dish in the mid-tier and higher packages. OLN, on the other hand, is only available on the highest tier package. Thus I was hoping anyone other than CoNcast would get NHL rights.
    I’m going to subscribe to NHL Center Ice. The Pens look like a team to watch, but I’m concerned that, due to the Sidney Crosby effect, OLN will broadcast a slew of Pens games. This could potentially black out those broadcasts on Center Ice.

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