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NHL Presses Pause On TV Rights Negotiations

“John Ourand and Terry Lefton of SBJ report that the NHL would like to be in business with two networks. It is the only one of America’s four major sports leagues that does not currently have a split national TV package.”

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The NHL will not continue negotiating a new television contract until the end of 2020 according to a report from Sports Business Journal. The league’s current deal with NBC is set to expire after the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals.

Just how valuable the NHL is as a television property will have a lot to do with the NFL. The league has re-upped with Amazon for digital rights, but the NFL’s linear TV partners (CBS, ESPN, FOX, and NBC) are all still waiting and all are willing to spend money to stay in the professional football business.

In addition to NBC, both ESPN and FOX has expressed interest in the NHL’s TV rights. How much any of those three networks would be willing to spend is largely going to depend on how much they are forced to spend to keep the NFL.

Joe Lucia of Awful Announcing says there may be more competition. He suggests that CBS could be a contender after losing the TV rights to the SEC’s top football game every Saturday. He writes that the network “bolstered their sports content with last fall’s surprising pickup of the rights for the UEFA Champions League, beginning in the fall of 2021. The NHL likely wouldn’t be too thrilled with games on CBS Sports Network or CBS All-Access, but weekend games in the winter on CBS’s broadcast network would be an interesting outcome.”

John Ourand and Terry Lefton of SBJ report that the NHL would like to be in business with two networks. It is the only one of America’s four major sports leagues that does not currently have a split national TV package.

Cash is very much at the center of the NHL’s decision, but there are multiple reasons. First, the league is going to let the NFL set the market for live sports. If a network pays less than expected for the NFL, the NHL could be the beneficiary. The NHL is also likely also hoping networks have more money to spend by the end of the year than they have right now after being hit hard by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Sports TV News

Ray Didinger Thought NFL Films Was Joking When Approached About Upcoming Special

“I’ve always contended that NFL Films could make anything interesting, and they actually managed to do that with me. So that’s the ultimate proof of it.”

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Philadelphia media icon Ray Didinger has a career story worth telling, and that’s why NFL Films will be focusing on it for an upcoming edition of NFL Films Presents…

Didinger, who worked for more than two decades at NFL Films working his way up to the role of senior producer, told Dom Giordano on 1210 WPHT on Tuesday that he was actually surprised when producer Chris Barlow approached him with the idea.

“When NFL Films told me they wanted to do this, I thought they were joking,” Didinger said. “When (Barlow) sent me the email and said we want to do a show about you (and Tommy McDonald), I thought he was just pulling my leg.”

Didinger stated that he was fortunate to have the chance to have his story told. He’s looking forward to fans being able to check out the show, which airs at 12:30 a.m. on Friday on FS1.

“It really turned out well,” he said. “I saw the rough cut of it, and it’s really neat.”

“NFL Films, they are the state of the art in sports cinematography there’s no question about that,” he added. “I’ve always contended that NFL Films could make anything interesting, and they actually managed to do that with me. So that’s the ultimate proof of it.”

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Sports TV News

Kay Adams: Pat McAfee Has Built ‘The Dream’

“it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

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Many in sports media respect what former NFL punter Pat McAfee has accomplished in his media endeavors. You can add FanDuel TV host Kay Adams to that list.

“I’m just blown away by the success and by the leverage he has,” Adams said on the My Other Passion podcast. “It is uncanny, it is aspirational, and it is self-made, so it is a beautiful thing. I — of course — watch what he does. I don’t want to be just like him but I do think he is so disruptive.

“He has such a chip on his shoulder. It drives him but I almost wish I could see it relieved a little bit. He’s thriving, he’s happy, and I think the thing that sticks out to me about him is that he’s truly grateful. Truly is grateful for everything he has, his opportunities. He’s worked his ass off for it.”

Adams pointed to McAfee’s recent spat with the NFL over use of the league’s logos as an indicator of not only his success but his influence in the sports landscape.

“He is true to himself but he mostly leads with gratitude, which I think is the epitome of success. But he’s out there show you what can be done. He’s the first, but will he be the last to have that sort of platform? That sort of swing? What he does with the NFL the other week, I’m paying attention to that.

“Because I want to see: is the NFL going to bend the knee to Pat McAfee? Does the NFL care what he says? But it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

The NFL did eventually “bend the knee” and reversed course on limiting McAfee’s use of league trademarks.

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Sports TV News

John Skipper: Bob Iger’s Return Won’t Effect ESPN

“If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

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There have been many questions about what Bob Iger’s return to Disney will mean for ESPN, but former ESPN President John Skipper believes it won’t change much.

Skipper pointed to Iger’s relationships with powerbrokers in the sports world as a positive, and also believes that the “streaming wars” will be won by those who hold the rights to live sports.

“As a moat, to get the pay-TV fees and to get people to pay more money to subscribe,” Skipper pointed to Sportico as the reason for ESPN to still have an agreement with the NBA for linear TV. He later added “If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

Skipper also said the network used to invest in constant studio programming but said that’s no longer a necessity.

“We did that type of programming because the economics were different at the time,” Skipper said.

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