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ESPN Nets NHL Broadcast Rights

NHL
(Image credit: NHL)

UPDATE 3/10, 1:07 p.m.

BRISTOL, Conn. & NEW YORK—The NHL has found a new broadcast home at ESPN, as the two sides have reportedly completed a seven-year deal that will make ESPN one of the NHL’s media partners starting in 2022.

SportsNet first reported the news, with the Walt Disney Company confirming in an official press release

ESPN is expected to split the U.S. media rights for the NHL with another media company, though it is not clear at this time who that may be. No financial terms have been shared, either.

As part of the deal, ABC will get to present coverage of four Stanley Cup Finals between 2022-2028, with the ability to simulcast it on the ESPN+ streaming service  and additional ESPN networks, as well as half of the entire NHL playoffs and exclusive coverage of one conference final on ABC and ESPN each season. ABC and ESPN will also exclusively broadcast 25 regular season games. An additional  75 games will be available to stream on ESPN+ and Hulu.

Other facets of the deal, includes making more than 1,000 games previously streamed by the NHL on its own outlet available for fans to stream only as part of an ESPN+ subscription, and broadcast rights to several special league events—opening night games, All-Star game and Skills Competition and more. ESPN will have highlight rights for its other programming and international rights for Latin America, the Caribbean and parts of Europe.

"The combination of streaming leadership with ESPN+ and Hulu, along with our powerhouse ABC and ESPN networks, will bring the NHL into the homes and lives of millions of passionate fans—and help create new ones," said Kareem Daniel, chairman, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution. "It’s a hat trick that delivers incredible value to our partner, our business and consumers."

NBC currently holds the rights to broadcast NHL games, but its 10-year, $200 million per year deal signed in 2011 expires at the end of this season. 

NBC recently announced that it would be shuttering NBC Sports Network by the end of 2021, which broadcasts multiple NHL games weekly as well as NHL playoff series. The plan is for NHL games to air on USA Network at some point later this year.

ESPN previously had broadcast rights to the NHL from 1992-2004, and it currently streams some NHL games on its ESPN+ app.