Reunion Between NHL and ESPN Fixes a 17-Year-Old Mistake

Tim Baysinger
·1-min read

The NHL and ESPN are back together for the first time since the last buzzer sounded at the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals. The two’s new 7-year deal, announced Wednesday, reverses a mistake many believe the two parties made 17 years ago. At one point, the NHL and ESPN were tied at the hip. ESPN and ABC were the league’s main broadcaster from 1992 until 2004, with NHL games providing a measure of stability in the early days of ESPN2. After a lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 season, ESPN declined to pick up its option for the 2005-06 season, which would have cost $60 million, nor match NBC’s three-year offer. Then ESPN/ABC sports president George Bodenheimer blamed the work stoppage and the league’s meager TV ratings for walking away, saying “no financial model even remotely supports the contract terms offered.” Also Read: NHL Skates Back to ESPN With New 7-Year TV and Streaming Deal Many industry observers have argued that fateful decision has been disatrious for the NHL. Bettman told TheWrap during a press conference that, though the league has seen its TV ratings increase (though it still pales in comparison to the other major sports in the U.S.), not...

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