For the first time since 2004, the National Hockey League will return to ESPN beginning next season.
In a press release, ESPN announced Wednesday that they and the NHL agreed on a seven-year contract that will include four Stanley Cup finals that'll air on ABC.
"This partnership of the world's top hockey league and the platforms of The Walt Disney Company is a big win for our fans and our game," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in the news release. "Not only will this groundbreaking, but seven-year deal also enable the NHL to benefit from the incomparable power, reach, and influence of The Walt Disney Company and ABC/ESPN, it sets a new standard in delivering our game to the most passionate and tech-savvy fans in sports in the ways they now demand and on the platforms they use."
According to the news release, the deal includes:
- ESPN and ABC broadcasting 25 regular-season games.
- Early-round playoff games.
- One conference final each year.
ESPN+ will stream more than 1,000 games per season.
Also, 75 ESPN-produced exclusive telecasts per season will be shown on ESPN+ and Hulu.
The deal also includes opening-night games, the NHL All-Star Game and Skills Challenge, and other special events.
The NHL's out-of-market streaming package (NHL.TV) is again moving to ESPN+ as part of its subscription offerings.
According to Sportsnet, ESPN would broadcast the Stanley Cup Finals series between 2022 and 2028.
According to USA Today, NBC's deal, which was signed in 2011, is set to expire at the end of the current season.