Rogers signs $5.2-billion deal for NHL broadcast rights

Rogers Communications has shaken up Canada’s sports broadcast landscape, announcing today a massive 12-year, $5.2 billion deal with the NHL that includes national rights to all games on all platforms in all languages, beginning with the 2014-15 season and running through 2025-26.

The deal is subject to approval by the NHL’s Board of Governors at its meeting Dec. 9-10. It is the largest rights deal in NHL history, and the first time a North American sports league has granted all of its Canadian rights to one company on such a long-term basis.

The scope of the deal is massive, granting Rogers national rights across TV broadcasts, TV everywhere, wireless and mobile tablets, as well as internet streaming, terrestrial and satellite radio and out-of-home for all regular season games, playoff games and the Stanley Cup Final, as well as special events such as the NHL All-Star Game and non-game events such as the NHL Draft in all languages.

Rogers also gets out-of-market rights for all regional games; ownership of linear and digital highlights, including condensed games and video archives; the right to operate the NHL Centre Ice and NHL Game Centre Live platforms; as well as sponsorship rights to the NHL shield logo as an official NHL partner. It also gives Rogers Canadian representation of ad sales for

Rogers president and CEO Nadir Mohamed called sports content a “key strategic asset” for the company, noting that the company has been investing “significantly” to strengthen its offering in this area.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that the deal offers an “unparalleled viewing experience” for Canadian hockey fans. “The NHL is extremely excited about the power and potential of this groundbreaking partnership,” he said in a release.

Rogers said that it will provide multiple game coverage on up to nine TV channels plus digital and radio on any given night. Packages will include pre- and post-game coverage, behind-the-scenes access, profiles of the league’s top 50 stars and what the company called “first-to-market production technology.”

The move considerably strengthens Rogers’ sports offering and complements its existing alliances with Canadian NHL franchises. Its specialty channel Sportsnet is the regional broadcaster of the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks, producing and airing 264 regional games each season.

Rogers also owns a 37.5% equity stake in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, along with 100% ownership of the Toronto Blue Jays and Rogers Centre. It also has long-term media agreements in place with the NHL, Major League Baseball, National Football League, Major League Soccer, the NCAA, Rogers Cup, UFC and international soccer.

Rogers also announced today that it has selected CBC and TVA for separate sub-licensing deals for English-language broadcasts of Hockey Night in Canada and all national French-language multimedia rights, respectively.

Annual payments to the league will begin at just over $300 million in the first year, increasing to approximately mid-$500 million in the final year of the deal. Rogers will also make an upfront payment of $150 million spread over the first two years for a total of $5.2 billion in payments. The costs will be offset by consideration received under the CBC and TVA sub-licenses.

Rogers said in a release that the deal will benefit Rogers Media’s operating profit from the outset and yield additional payment to both its cable and wireless operations.

Saturday Nights

The new deal will see Rogers, CBC and TVA all showing Saturday night games. Rogers provided a mock schedule to show what the TV lineup might look like across partnered channels.

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