Last night I put together a post about Viasat buying the TV rights for the Nordic region and reported that many fans were outraged by the decision, mainly because the NHL Game Centre Live was blocked in the countries affected.
It would appear that Viasat has also acquired the broadband broadcasting rights for the NHL in the Nordics region, but it would seem that they are not doing anything with it at the moment, which has enraged fans in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.
When the NHL sold the broadcasting rights to Medge and AMI, it also sold the broadband broadcasting rights and as far as I can tell, where there were no broadband/internet broadcasting deals in place, the NHL started selling its in-house product to the European market.
As the Viasat agreement also includes broadband coverage, the NHL has had to pull the plug on Game Centre Live in the Nordics due to conflict of interest, effectively creating a monopoly in the region for watching games.
As for Viasat and the quality of the product they offer: I’ve watched the last two Stanley Cup Finals from Viasat during my holiday in Finland and they deliver a good quality product, with localised commentators who actually know hockey and know what they are talking about.
However, the gripes that I’ve seen is that it is yet another TV package that people would have to subscribe to and with no broadband screening package available (at the time of writing), it has caused fans to get irate about it.
ESPN TV UK has also tweeted today to say that they are in talks with Medge and AMI with hopes to get an agreement in place soon. Whether that would include ESPN Player I’m not too sure about, but it would seem to make sense that they struck up that agreement as well.
UPDATE (15:48 GMT): Since posting this story, it would seem like there has been further developments into the story. Finnish tabloid Ilta-Lehti has reported that the TV deal for Nordics will only cover the NHL Premiere games. Medge Consulting has done as much as posted a Swedish news bulletin on their site to say that the deal is in place to cover the NHL Premiere games for Nordics. Well done Medge, really, well done.
This situation is starting to get beyond confusing and with mere hours to go till opening face off, we are still none the wiser, whether the Nordics (or the whole of Europe for that matter) have an all encompassing TV deal in place or not. At the moment, I’m starting to feel like you need a degree in astro physics to work this mess out.
I would like to apologise if my post caused any confusion, but I’m trying to stay on top of the developments.
EDIT 2: (17:32 GMT): The NHL has issued a statement regarding this whole mess. Good job, you got it online mere hours before puck drop for the first games. I’ve copied the whole statement below, but by the looks, we are still far from a situation where a TV deal would be announced.
ATTENTION EUROPEAN FANS:
The NHL’s goal this season is to bring more programming content and live games than ever to our passionate and loyal European fans. In connection with that pursuit, today we have launched six native-language Web sites (Czech, Finnish, German, Russian, Slovak, Swedish). NHL GameCenter LIVE enables our international fans to enjoy live and on-demand games via streaming video on broadband, mobile and tablet devices.
On the television side, we continue to work throughout Europe to bring NHL hockey to our fans. While these negotiations are ongoing, we remain optimistic that we soon will soon have agreements to announce. We thank you for your continued patience, as we continue to work diligently toward this goal.
The following are the local broadcast listing for the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere:
Friday, October 7:
2011 Compuware NHL Premiere Stockholm
7:00pm: New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings
TV10 and online via Viaplay (Sweden)
2011 Compuware NHL Premiere Helsinki
8:00pm: Anaheim Ducks vs. Buffalo Sabres
Nelonen Sport Pro (Finland)
Saturday, October 8:
2011 Compuware NHL Premiere Stockholm
7:00pm: New York Rangers vs. Anaheim Ducks
TV6/Viasat Hockey and online via Viaplay (Sweden), Nelonen Sport Pro (Finland)
NHL Live Games Online:
The 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere Games will be available through NHL GameCenter LIVE everywhere except Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark. In those countries, the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere games will be made available online via “Viaplay.”