The Walt Disney Company, ESPN and the National Hockey League (NHL) have reached a television, streaming and media rights deal, taking the new partnership from the beginning of the 2021-22 season through the 2027-28 season.
The agreement brings the NHL back to Disney and ESPN platforms. It is highlighted by: exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup Final on ABC in four of the seven years of the agreement, with the ability to simulcast/megacast on ESPN+ and additional ESPN networks; the return of live NHL action to ESPN networks with 25 exclusive national regular-season games on ABC or ESPN; 75 national regular-season games per season produced by ESPN that will stream exclusively on both ESPN+ and Hulu; half of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on ABC and ESPN each season; and coverage annually of NHL’s Face-off (opening night games), the NHL All-Star Game and Skills Challenge, plus other NHL special events each season.
Additionally, the NHL’s out-of-market streaming package, with more than 1.000 games (formerly on NHL.TV), will now be available for fans to stream only as part of an ESPN+ subscription.
The agreement also includes extensive highlight rights that will add to coverage across ESPN’s year-round news and highlights programming, and to coverage on the ESPN App and social media. International media rights – including in Latin America, the Caribbean and parts of Europe – are also part of the agreement.
“This partnership of the world’s top hockey league and the platforms of The Walt Disney Company is a big win for our fans and our game. Not only will this groundbreaking, seven-year deal 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,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman of ESPN and Sports Content, added: “This agreement clearly underscores The Walt Disney Company’s leadership in the sports media landscape and serves as a blueprint for sports deals in the future. We know the power of the NHL and are thrilled to welcome it back as a significant new pillar across our platforms, and we look forward to connecting more deeply and directly with some of the sports world’s most passionate fans”.
Lastly, Kareem Daniel, Chairman of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, commented: “This is the kind of innovative deal that only The Walt Disney Company and our portfolio of media platforms and businesses can bring to life. 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. It’s a hat trick that delivers incredible value to our partner, our business and consumers”.
This agreement clearly underscores The Walt Disney Company’s leadership in the sports media landscape and serves as a blueprint for sports deals in the future” Jimmy Pitaro Chairman of ESPN and Sports Content at The Walt Disney Company