Disney Lands NHL Broadcast Deal With Emphasis on Streaming

Walt Disney Co. announced a seven-year broadcast agreement with the National Hockey League that brings games to ABC and ESPN, as well as its streaming platforms ESPN+ and Hulu.

Under the deal, which runs through the season ending in 2028, ABC will air the Stanley Cup finals four times. There also will be 100 exclusive regular-season games each year on ABC, ESPN or the company’s streaming platforms, according to a statement Wednesday. Disney is paying about $300 million annually for the package, according to people familiar with the deal who asked not to be identified because the terms aren’t public.

The agreement reflects Disney’s aggressive shift into streaming, with plenty of coverage heading to its online outlets. Some of the games will be carried on Hulu, Disney’s broad entertainment streaming service. And the league’s package of out-of-market games, previously offered on NHL.com, will move to ESPN+, the media giant’s $6-a-month sports streaming service, at no additional cost.

“ESPN+ will now be a must-have for hockey fans,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro said on a conference call with reporters. “As we look to attract a younger generation, we think NHL live games will significantly help us.”

The company has had rights to show professional hockey on and off over the years, including using the sport to help launch its ESPN2 network in the early 1990s.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he hoped to announce a deal with another media partner for the remaining games in the schedule over the next few weeks. He said there have been “numerous expressions of interest.”

Comcast Corp.’s NBC has been the league’s main media partner, with a deal worth about $200 million a year that runs through the current season.

“We continue to discuss a potential future with the league as we focus on the season at hand,” NBC said.

Disney had announced the agreement earlier Wednesday, but withdrew the statement before reposting it.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.