Posts Tagged ‘AMI Partners’


After speaking to a source working within ESPN about the hockey situation and the broadcast mess, I learnt an interesting fact about the coverage deal for the UK. For understandable reasons I cannot name the source, but the source does work for ESPN and is credible.

It appears that for the UK ESPN America actually bid more for the rights to broadcast NHL than Premier Sports did, but what clinched the deal for Premier Sports was that they promised the NHL and the rights holders that they would be doing more promotional work around the game and that they would make a hard push to get more people interested in the game.

ESPN America was really interested and wanted to carry on showing the NHL in the UK, but as MarkUKLeaf mentioned on his blog: “Commissioner Bettman said to me on the phone that they didn’t want to deal with ESPN America as hockey had to compete with other US sports like baseball and basketball.”

Where I am sure Premier Sports is doing its best to do this, there are people out there who feel disappointed by the coverage so far. There has been numerous calls for half time analysis shows instead of adverts or the interview segments (I’m sorry I forget what it’s called as I automatically change channels for the break). After tweeting Premier Sports about this during their first Hockey Night In Canada broadcast, which I eagerly anticipated with pre-game and the stunning intro videos that CBC is renowned for, I was disappointed to learn that these will not be shown.

The tweet from Premier Sports read: “we are only allowed to take the games at the moment not studio as the rights for that are separate. We are trying for CBC.” Encouraging, but not really ideal. Though please do bear in mind that there was a similar issue with NASN/ESPN America a few years ago where they couldn’t show the CBC feed of the games.

Now here is the real kicker in all of this. According to my source, the deal was in place WEEKS before the games went on air with Premier Sports. So a deal was in place weeks before the season even started and Europe was left in the dark for nearly A MONTH into the season. I can’t help but feel a little bit cheated by the all parties involved. Surely it would’ve been beneficial for both the league and Premier Sports to get off to a better start with the new programme.

I can’t help but feel that the NHL wanted to have the Nordic region deal in place before allowing other media partners to release the fact they carried the sport.

Just a shame that us fans were cheated with this.


This statement was just released by ESPN America:

““Unfortunately, the NHL will not be part of the programming schedule on ESPN and ESPN America in the UK, Ireland or Nordic countries this season.
ESPN spoke to the NHL and their rights holders about continuing a partnership in these regions but we could not reach an agreement that worked for everyone.
We wish the National Hockey League and its new partners all the best while we remain in active discussions with them about coverage in many other parts of Europe.

Our channels will continue to provide a wide range of live sport, award-winning documentaries, original news & chat shows, and more.”

Judging by this, each of the countries will have a regional sports channel showing the NHL this year. For the UK the rights have been sold to Premier Sports and in the Czech Republic to Nova Sports. This suggests that channels like Viasat or Nelonen Pro might be getting NHL on the screens in the Nordics.

However, ESPN America has only pulled out from the Nordics, UK and Ireland, it does not mean that it wouldn’t pick up the broadcast for other European countries where a deal is not in place as of yet.

There is still no update as to whether GameCenter Live will be switched off, or if it will remain accessible to viewers in Europe.

Though ESPN America has pulled out, I would argue that in benefit of the sport it would be better to have the games on as many channels as possible, however, I can only guess that channels that have purchased the rights have demanded these on an exclusive basis to ensure that they can snag up as big of a share of the market as possible.


As of today, 28th of September, with eight days to go till the puck drop for the NHL regular season, the NHL has made Game Centre Live available to Europeans. Where this is a step forward, many of us still want the games on television. Notably, like I mentioned in my open letter to the NHL, AMI Partners and Medge Consulting, the internet does provide the league with further opportunities, but it cannot solely rely on online presence.

I mentioned in my letter that some households cannot receive sufficient speeds to stream games and having watched the Game Centre Live introduction video on the site, it froze four times for me. This simply is not acceptable or a proper way to watch a high speed sport.

Game Centre Live will provide option for us to pay monthly for the subscription, but once you sign up you are tied to the contract and expected to make payments on schedule.

 

However, the bigger picture here is that the NHL has seemingly undercut Medge Consulting (the TV Rights owner) and provided Europeans with a way to watch the games, even if not in a desireable manner. What this means for Medge is that it will be even more difficult to come up with an agreement with broadcasters as GCL would appear a cheaper alternative to what Medge is selling the rights for. I would like to stress that the prices I’ve heard are rumours and I have no access to confirmed figures.

So what are the options then? For those who have fast internet access, GCL is a good way to go, but for me and I’m sure many in the same boat who receive only fraction of the promised internet speeds, will have to look elsewhere. Making GCL available to Europe IS NOT a solution to the problem. The NHL needs to be on TV AND online if it really wants to make its presence known in Europe. Where GCL offers us the opportunity to watch the games I can’t help but feel that the situation is a throwback to the 80s and mid 90s when it was seemingly impossible to watch live games on television (apart from the cup finals). Like I said, I fear that the NHL has taken a step back which will take more than five years to recover from as it has a lesser capacity to attract new fans in Europe.

There’s a Twitter handle to use for TV rights for Europe (#NHLTVDeal4Europe), so please spread the word and hopefully the powers that be will take notice and we can finally see a solution to the deadlock situation.