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NBC signs a two-year deal to televise games

By wire services
Published May 19, 2004

NBC Sports, which last broadcast regular-season games 29 years ago when it showcased the animated Peter Puck character, will resume its relationship with the sport with a two-year, revenue-sharing contract.

NBC will replace ABC as the broadcast partner of the league, which is also trying to complete the renewal of its cable deal with ESPN.

NBC will carry a regionalized package of regular-season games on six or seven Saturdays, followed by playoff games every Saturday until the Stanley Cup final, when the network will pick up coverage with Game 3 and continue through Game 7.

Maintaining a presence for his sport on television is a coup for commissioner Gary Bettman, but it comes with a certain risk. The league will not receive the kind of upfront fees that are common in most network contracts.

The last time such a deal was made with a major sports league was in 1994 and 1995, when Major League Baseball joined with ABC and NBC to create the Baseball Network. The players strike in 1994 wrecked the revenue-sharing model that was central to the agreement.

In this deal, which is structured like the one NBC has with the Arena Football League, the network and the NHL will share revenues. NBC will take the first chunk to cover its production and distribution costs, and the cost of pre-empting other programming during the Stanley Cup final.

The league will then get the major part of the next set of revenue, and then an even split of what remains.

KINGS: Goaltender Milan Hnilicka signed a three-year contract with Liberec in the Czech League. Hnilicka, drafted by the Islanders in 1991, played in 121 games for the Rangers, Thrashers and Kings with a 29-13-67 record and 3.31 goals-against average.

RANGERS: General manager Glen Sather is still searching for a coach. Sather, who stepped down as coach in midseason, has spoken with former Senators coach Jacques Martin, former Blues coach Joel Quenneville and former Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice.

[Last modified May 19, 2004, 01:00:42]


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