NASN (the North American Sports Network) has agreed to a four-year partnership with the National Hockey League (NHL) and its international distribution partner, Comcast. The agreement provides NASN with exclusive rights to broadcast the NHL via all forms of television including HDTV and IPTV throughout Europe. NASN also has secured the exclusive European broadband and mobile rights enabling the streaming of live NHL games as well as non-exclusive rights to show highlights over the Internet and on wireless devices in Europe. The agreement affords NASN options to extend the deal for an additional two years, and to broadcast rights for Asia-Pacific.
The new partnership, which corresponds with the beginning of the NHL's 2005-06 season, takes immediate effect in all European countries and allows for certain non exclusive arrangements in select European territories. With the League's regular season underway, NASN will show at least 200 games this year, with up to six live games per week and wall-to-wall coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Final. In future seasons, NASN's coverage will include the NHL's All-Star Game and Skills Competition. Due to the NHL's commitment to participate in the Turin Winter Olympics, the All-Star Game will not be played again until the 2006-07 season.
Today's agreement with NASN reflects the multi-media partnership that exists between Comcast and the NHL, which in addition to televising games domestically on Comcast's OLN network, also permits Comcast to sublicense certain NHL rights internationally.
NASN's Chief Executive, Amory Schwartz, said: "Our partnership with the NHL and Comcast is a key piece in the continued growth of the network. Our acquisition of broadband streaming and mobile-based rights is an important development in establishing NASN as the number one destination in Europe for North American Sports, whether it be by television, computer or wireless device."
The NHL, one of the oldest sports leagues in North America, has a strong tradition of European players. Currently over one-third of its players, representing over 20 countries, make it their professional home -- including Sweden's Peter Forsberg, Jaromir Jagr of the Czech Republic and Russia's Sergei Fedorov. As a result, the League enjoys a strong fan base throughout Europe.
"Our partnership with NASN represents a significant step by the League to re-establish its relationship with its existing European-based fans, as well as begin the process of developing new ones," said Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner.
"Today's agreement underscores the value of our partnership with the NHL and is a testament to the appeal of the revitalized, reenergized sport of hockey," said Jeff Shell, President of Comcast Programming for Comcast Corporation.
NASN's partnership with the NHL and Comcast comes shortly after it agreed to exclusive terms with the NFL in 17 European countries. The deal also represents NASN's first public steps towards entering the Asian market, a goal the company announced it would pursue in June 2005, shortly after Benchmark Capital Europe secured a significant shareholding in NASN.
Schwartz also said: "NASN is in discussion, in several instances at the final stages, with multiple carriage companies to expand its reach, and believes the addition of the NHL will make an already compelling offering, must-have content.
"We are open to working with broadcasters on sublicense rights in order to enhance local coverage of the NHL once we are up in markets that we are presently not in."