TNT joins ESPN as NHL TV partner, NBC out

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

After 16 years, the NHL will not be seen on any NBC affiliate. 

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post first reported on Monday that the league and Turner Sports, best known for its TNT television channel, have agreed to a seven-year deal worth $1.6 billion, joining ESPN as a second broadcasting partner.

The NHL and ESPN reached a seven-year deal last month where they’ll take over at the start of the 2021-22 season.

Over the next seven seasons alongside its national regular-season schedule, ESPN will broadcast four Stanley Cup Finals while Turner gets three. 

The move will further help the league’s exposure as it is widely considered the least popular of the four major North American sports leagues, trailing behind the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball. 

While ESPN is the most-watched sports television network, Turner owns the well-known website, Bleacher Report, which Marchand notes “can help grow the younger demographic.”

A spokesperson from Bleacher Report did not return amNewYork Metro’s inquiry for comment at the time of this article’s publishing. 

NBC acquired the NHL’s television rights from ABC in 2005 after their initial deal was reworked when a lockout eliminated the entire 2004-05 season. With the league on shaky ground, NBC helped stabilize hockey in the United States, helping to introduce now benchmark events like the Winter Classic.

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