Per Chris Johnston, ESPN will be a part of the NHL’s next national TV deal. The deal will not be an exclusive deal to ESPN, like what the NHL had with NBC since 2005. This is big news for the NHL on two fronts. The first is that ESPN, which does drive a lot of sports content whether you like it or not, will be involved. They get the full ESPN, ABC, and Disney push from them.
The second, and perhaps more important, is the NHL isn’t backing themselves into a corner by going with an exclusive deal with one network. A non-exclusive deal has the ability to boost hockey revenue as well, with multiple TV contracts coming in. That, in turn, should be a big boost to the cap ceiling at a time when it is needed.
An added bonus: We may get Gary Thorne back. That’s the best part of ESPN being in the next NHL TV deal.