In sport, one of the biggest drivers of success stems from money – and money has to come from somewhere. In some sports, the leagues are sustained by owners putting their hands in their pockets for ego or for soft power. Other leagues are powered by major sponsorship and deals. Television and broadcasting contracts, though, have longed played a part in the American sports sphere – especially in hockey. Therefore, the latest agreement for live hockey to be shown via HBO Max is a very interesting step forward for the entire industry.
This new deal between NHL and HBO Max will see the Stanley Cup shown on TNT and TBS as part of the new agreement. The new deal, a seven-year agreement between the National Hockey League and Turner Sports will see hockey fans have even more choice to watch the showpiece event of the NHL season. The agreement was a shock, though, as only recently WarnerMedia, the owner of Turner Sports, said they would not be taking in the NHL via their CEO Jason Kilar.
Sport fans, though, should be excited at this development. We are now in a phase where we could see more money flowing into the sporting world than ever before. We could see more opportunity, more ambition, more talent, and even more remuneration. With hockey lagging behind other major US sports, too, the increased profile and opportunity for people to watch the sport can only be a positive for growing the audience.
What will be shown on the WarnerMedia agreement with NHL?
At the moment, these programs will see HBO Max, TNT, and TBS all take on games for the long-term. The latter duo will. Take on the Stanley Cup for three of the seven years, in 2023, 2025, and 2027. This will see the rest of the years shown on ESPN Plus and ABC, via Disney, which is the other major streaming partner that the NHL has landed.
This helps them to build an ever-increasing platform within the sporting world, and offers a unique opportunity. Across the three groups, then, fans can look forward to over seventy regular season games, the NHL Winter Classic exclusively shown, and also half of the Conference Finals and half of the first two play-off rounds for each season.
However, the only negative is that for any major hockey fan who wants to watch every game they’ll need to get a litany of streaming services. This will mean using either NHL.TV if you live outside of the catchment area, or a combination of services like ESPN Plus, HBO Max, and various other platforms. This means that it will be harder for domestic fans to find all of their hockey on the one platform as was the case in the past.
That being said, it’s intriguing to see that HBO Max are moving into the sporting sphere. As the sports world begins to hit the glass ceiling of domestic and international TV rights values, could streaming offer the next chance for a major boon?