Posts Tagged ‘Medge Consulting’

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.

As posted previously on this blog, Finland and Sweden have an NHL deal in place carrying through till 2015-2016. In Sweden the games will be shown by Viasat and in Finland by Nelonen Pro.

In Finland, Nelonen Pro will air 150 games per season and will show the play offs and the Stanley cup finals. Viasat in turn is looking to air 15games per week.

Additionally Viasat will be airing all 1,300 regular season games live or ‘as-live’ through it’s extra channels and satellite broadcasts.

Both channels will offer North American tv broadcasts but will provide localised commentary and local insights to the games.

“This is a significant deal and will allow us to bring all the NHL games to the Nordic countries for the first time ever,” said NHL director John Collins. “This broadcast agreement ensures that NHL fans in the Nordic countries an entirely new way to approach the games and the players. This agreement is a win for both NHL hockey and our fans.”

Included in the deal is an online broadcast service of games, Viaplay, which will allow fans to stream live games through the service.

Again there is no news about the continued availability of Gamecenter live.

This deal would mean that the NHL is available on TV in nordics, uk and the Czech republic. I will report any new tv deals for other regions.

Personally I have to say that this deal is really impressive and I hope it pleases the fans in the Nordics.

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.

Dear Medge Consulting, AMI Partners and the NHL


I, like many of my peers in Europe are anxiously waiting for the new NHL season to begin. I’ve missed the long sleepless, Friday and Saturday nights that I’ve spent in front of my TV, watching the coolest game on earth. At the time of writing this, there are ten days to go till the puck drops for the 2011-2012 regular season. I would normally write how excited I am of this time of the year, but now I’m nothing but confused, concerned and angry.


However, like you may have guessed the current situation with the NHL broadcasting rights has left myself, and many others confused. I can understand that there are many broadcasters that you are speaking to, but seeing as the season is drawing closer, it is looking less and less likely that we will have the games on TV here in Europe. (I sincerely hope that this is not the case).


I know NHL is trying to push the sport here in Europe, but the current situation is doing little to help the leagues visibility on the ‘old-continent’. There is a huge number of fans that are tuning in to watch the games night in night out and many have subscribed to channels such as ESPN America or equivalent depending on their respective region.


What really annoys me, and I’m sure many of the fans in Europe, is that there seems to be a visible disconnect between the rights holders, the NHL and the fans. As many of us fans have had subscriptions to paid for channels, we have gone and cancelled our subscriptions, because a) the broadcaster cannot comment, b) the NHL is not commenting and c) Medge Consulting/AMI Partners have done little except issued a press release about the acquisition of the rights. How difficult is it to give some sort of guidance on the situation. The few articles I’ve read have Medge saying the “chances of having NHL on the TV in Europe is 100%”, and broadcasters saying that “at the moment I don’t think it is viable.” You can obviously see where the confusion comes from, can’t you.


I know there have been rumours of making the Game Centre Live available to Europe, but I ask you NHL, is this the right way forward? I know that we live in a digital age, where the internet presents countless opportunities. Call me old-school, but I sure like to watch my sports on my TV, in High-Definition without having to rely on internet connectivity.


Further to the point, if you really are looking to push the sport in Europe, please remember that not all countries are developed to the point that they could afford 20Mbps connections at every house. Heck, I’m lucky to get a 1Mbps connection and none of the providers can do much better. Am I to assume that I’m going to have to watch games, from game centre, with grainy image quality and with a connection that cuts out every 5 seconds? Hardly the experience one would want from the game of hockey. What about the price for the Game Centre then? In the past I have paid £10 for ESPN America per month and looking at the Game Centre prices for the USA, it does not look that attractive. Do you really want to start having fans flock to ‘illegal’ streaming links? At the moment it would seem that we have no other option.


Rather ironically, the games in Europe have sold tens of thousands of tickets, but you are losing out on a FAR GREATER audience by not having an agreement in place. I do actually sympathise with ESPN America as they have been backed into a corner and have undoubtedly lost a huge amount of revenue due to the loss of the games as many fans have cancelled their subscriptions to the channel. Surely this situation is not ideal.


Many of the articles I have read about the rights, quote broadcasters saying that the price Medge Consulting and AMI Partners have on the games is so extortionate that it makes little business sense to take on the games. The NHL has said on many occasions that it wants to expand the visibility and the league in the Europe, but I can’t help but wonder that the old adage of ‘money talks and BS walks’ is the true motive behind the sale of the rights.


This really isn’t the way to push a sport further into Europe and keep avid fans in tune with the best sports league in the world. At the moment, even the KHL looks like a more competent league in terms of broadcasting than the NHL does. Whatever the outcome of this mess is, I fear that the NHL has shot itself in the foot BIG TIME for the next five years.


I’d like to think that I’ve highlighted some of the feelings of the fans in Europe regarding the broadcasting rights.




Janne Virtanen