In the hullabaloo of the announced six-year digital media rights partnership between the NHL and Major League Baseball, I couldn’t help but wonder what might be the knock-on effect for European NHL fans.
We are currently locked into a TV deal that is due to run its course after the 2015/16 season, with the NHL currently trying to sue the middle man in that arrangement (Medge/AMI) for non payment.
This deal between the MLB/NHL at this point is just a digital media arrangement with the new tech company “MLBAM” responsible for GameCenter Live, NHL Center Ice, NHL Network and NHL.com and possibly more that we aren’t aware of at this juncture.
The launch won’t be made until January at the earliest, so it will be business at usual regarding all digital platforms including GameCenter Live in October and apparently NeuLion, the NHL’s current digital partner, will help facilitate the transition to make sure it runs smoothly.
Users of GCL I believe should be positive about this partnership. I’ve sporadically used MLB.TV in recent times and on each occasion it’s been very smooth online with no buffering or issues of any kind, and extremely good quality.
If this standard could be transferred to GCL down the line then this can only be a good thing moving forward for those wanting online coverage.
This quote from Gary Bettman confirms we are likely to be dealing with MLBAM.
“As part of the deal, MLBAM will serve as the distribution arm for GameCenter Live and NHL Center Ice subscription services in the United States and certain international markets. The League and its clubs will retain editorial control of the content.”
As per the official press release, MLBAM has similar partnerships with a host of other companies in the sports and entertainment fields. It provides streaming or infrastructure support for YES Network and SportsNet New York, WatchESPN, CBS Sports’ March Madness, World Wrestling Entertainment, and HBO Go.
A very professional outfit who have paid a fee reported to be $100 million annually for the rights to all the NHL’s digital platforms, and the NHL gets up to 10 percent in equity in MLBAM.
Now the MLB has a reputation for cracking down on fans making Gifs, vines and podcasts using their footage but when Collins was asked about this by Yahoo Sports, he basically inferred that this was still the NHL’s business and they have the right to make the call.
With the amount of illegal streaming of NHL games that goes on and the workaround on blacked out games, I’m sure that comes as a relief to fans for the time being. What happens after this season is certainly up for discussion however.
The following is a stab in the dark on my part but what many of you may have already been thinking.
With the NHL’s television rights outside North America up for grabs after next season, what price that MLB’s partner in the UK takes a punt on the NHL. Many have wanted BT Sport to take a run at the NHL since it’s launch in 2013.
Premier Sports have finally got themselves a HD channel up and running this season but their problems broadcasting NHL during the length of this current deal don’t need to be reiterated again.
Next summer should be interesting, if not a worrying time, for the NHL overseas television rights, but it appears that the digital side of things are in good hands.