Hockey coming to HBO Max through deal with NHL

(Logos courtesy National Hockey League and AT&T WarnerMedia/Turner Sports, Graphic by The Desk)

The National Hockey League and AT&T WarnerMedia have announced a deal that will bring live hockey games to WarnerMedia’s linear cable channels TNT and TBS as well as the wireless phone company’s premium streaming service HBO Max.

The deal announced on Tuesday comes one month after the league announced a similar deal that will see some national and out-of-market hockey games stream on ESPN, ABC and the streaming service ESPN Plus starting next season.

The pair of deals are a final death blow to the league’s long-term deal with Comcast’s NBC Universal, which has aired and streamed national and some regional hockey games, including the championship Stanley Cup final, for more than a decade.

Like Disney’s deal, the league’s agreement with AT&T’s subsidiary Turner Sports takes effect next season and lasts for the next seven years.

“They put a fun and innovative factor into all of what they do and we’re excited to have that same treatment for our sport and for our fans,” Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, remarked about Turner Sports. “We love the reach of their linear networks, both TNT and TBS, and as we look to the future, we’re excited about the digital properties, in particular HBO Max and Bleacher Report. For us, this is a perfect fit.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Bettman said it reflected the “value that we bring as compelling content.”

The Turner Sports deal essentially fills in the remaining programming commitments left open by the NHL’s deal with Disney. Under the deal, Turner Sports and ESPN will share broadcast and streaming rights to the Stanley Cup final, with Turner Sports earning television rights to the championship game in 2023, 2025 and 2027. (ESPN and ABC will air the games next season, 2024, 2026 and 2028.)

Turner Sports will have the exclusive rights to the NHL Winter Classic every year for the next seven seasons along with 72 regular-season games each year. Those games are expected to air on TNT and TBS, with additional streaming rights going to HBO Max later in the life of the deal.

AT&T WarnerMedia executive Jeff Zucker said the telecasts will not conflict with Turner’s other sports commitments, including its telecast obligations to the NBA, which also has a media agreement with Disney.

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