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Comcast's OLN to Cover NHL in HD

After missing its entire season this year due to a strike, the National Hockey League will attempt to reintroduce itself to its fans, and to HD consumers this fall who will actually be able to see the puck in action. Comcast has signed a $100 million deal to carry the NHL for the next two seasons, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The agreement, if approved by the NHL's governing board (seen as extremely likely), would reportedly stipulate HD coverage of two NHL broadcasts a week. The matches will air on Outdoor Life Network (OLN), a TV venue already known to several million viewers for its live coverage of the annual Tour de France, the cable channel's highest-rated program, by far.

Recent published reports suggest that Comcast is trying to grow OLN from a niche sports channel to a major sports contender, perhaps even taking on the well-branded ESPN franchise by securing rights, including HD options, for some NFL games.

As for hockey, the NHL has already signed an agreement with NBC Sports for analog broadcast coverage of about half a dozen regular games and several playoff contests in the upcoming season, which begins in October.