NHL Returns to ESPN, 7-Year Deal
ESPN and the NHL announced a seven-year deal on Wednesday, returning hockey to ESPN for the first time since 2004. Included will be 25 regular-season games on ESPN or ABC, early-round playoff games and one conference final each year, four Stanley Cup Final games on ABC, and more than 1,000 games per season streaming on ESPN+. ESPN+ and Hulu will be the home to 75 ESPN-produced exclusive telecasts per season.
The deal also includes opening-night games, the NHL All-Star Game and Skills Challenge, and other special events. The NHL's out-of-market streaming package (NHL.TV) is also moving to ESPN+ as part of its subscription offerings.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman also lauded the deal. "Not only will this groundbreaking, but the seven-year deal also will enable the NHL to benefit from the incomparable power, reach and influence of The Walt Disney Company and ABC/ESPN, it sets a new standard in delivering our game to the most passionate and tech-savvy fans in sports in the ways they now demand and on the platforms they use," he said in a statement.
The first NHL game on ESPN appeared on December 19, 1979. Since 2004, all games have aired on NBC or its cable properties.