ESPN is reportedly prepared to make a run at the National Hockey League’s TV rights, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Like a lot of sports fans, I live in one of those 35 million households that gets ESPN but not Versus, which is where the NHL currently has its games broadcast. That means for the last five years, if it wasn’t a Minnesota Wild game, I probably wasn’t watching it (except for the occasional weekend broadcast on NBC later in the season).
But an NHL deal with ESPN goes beyond just getting their games broadcast in 50 percent more homes than they already do.
ESPN is the worldwide leader. Whether you like it or you hate it, a partnership with the network automatically adds more credibility to the product. The NFL knows it. MLB knows it. Heck, Major League Soccer knows it.
More exposure. More relevance. What’s not to like for the NHL?
I really hope ESPN is able to get this done. I used to be a pretty loyal NHL fan, but I’ve been boxed out from watching any games that don’t involve the local market, unless I want to pony up the money to move up a tier on my current cable/satellite package, which I do not.