NHL sell overseas distribution rights to IMG

It was announced on October 6, that the International Media Group (IMG), and the National Hockey League have signed a multiyear agreement to market and distribute global media rights for the NHL outside the U.S., Canada and Nordic countries, beginning with the 2016-17 NHL season.

I missed this when it was officially announced, although it was hardly headline news, so I’m grateful to Rob Smith Surtees for the heads up.

This deal takes over from previous agreement signed with AMI/Medge, that comes to an natural conclusion at the end of this season although it’s been far from plain sailings between all parties. http://wp.me/p2gDti-j4

In addition, IMG will work alongside the National Hockey League Players’ Association and the NHL to make the 2016 World Cup of Hockey available to the same territories worldwide.
The 2016 World Cup of Hockey will be played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1, 2016 and be comprised of eight teams – Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden, Team USA, Team Europe and Team North America.

A little about IMG from their official website.
***IMG is a global leader in sports, events, media and fashion, operating in more than 25 countries. The company represents and manages some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fashion icons; stages thousands of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually; and is the world’s largest independent producer and distributor of sports media. IMG also specializes in sports training; league development; and marketing, media and licensing for brands, sports organizations and collegiate institutions. In 2014, IMG was acquired by WME, the world’s leading entertainment agency, to form WME | IMG.***


Hillary Mandel, Senior Vice President & Head of Media, North America at IMG, said: “Our partnership will be based on a collaborative approach. The reach and expertise of our global sales team allows us to act on a sales and consultancy basis, as this extensive knowledge of each regional market means we can work strategically with both organizations. As a result, this is an exciting opportunity to make the NHL far more accessible to both its existing global fan base and a new generation of hockey fans.”

“We are thrilled to expand our relationship with IMG,” said David Proper, NHL Executive Vice President of Media Distribution and Strategy / Business Affairs. “Bringing NHL games and the World Cup of Hockey to our fans worldwide is a crucial component of our strategic plan to grow the NHL’s global presence.”

“We are looking forward to working with IMG, in conjunction with the NHL, to further expand the reach of the World Cup of Hockey to a broader global audience,” said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director.

According to an article written in the Sports Business Daily, two different contracts are in play here.
*** The deal is structured as two separate contracts: one for the World Cup of Hockey tournament next September, in which the NHL Players’ Association receives a 50 percent revenue split; and another for regular-season and postseason NHL games. WME-IMG will represent all global rights on all media platforms outside of Scandinavia and North America.”

“IMG stood out because of their breadth, scale and reach, along with their capabilities, which obviously could go far beyond TV,” said David Proper, the NHL’s executive vice president for media strategy and distribution. “This is not a rights buyout. We’ll be working with them side by side, as we look to grow the game in Europe and elsewhere.”

The NHL picked WME-IMG’s bid over competing bids from ESPN and MP & Silva, sources said. The agency already has a relationship with the NHL, producing media around the Winter Classic and the end-of-season NHL Awards show.

Financial terms of the arrangement between WME-IMG and the NHL could not be determined. ***

What also has not been determined is the length of this deal except that it’s a “multi-year” agreement.
Perhaps we can expect a five year deal to tie in with the recently agreed digital media rights partnership between the NHL and Major League Baseball. http://wp.me/p2gDti-k0

IMG have a track record in media distribution that makes AMI and Medge International look amateurish in comparison. Dealing with a clientele that has included the very biggest companies within sport, including working very recently with the English Premier League and helping to expand that brand across the world.

This should mean that every European country will be secured television coverage from next season but what form that’ll take won’t become clear for a long while yet. However it’s a far cry from the uncertainty of the past.

Note: The Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, have their own deal, which was signed in the summer of 2015. More details are below from the official press release at the time.

July 20 2015
MTG and the National Hockey League (NHL®) today announced a five-year partnership renewal that includes broadcast and online exclusivity for NHL games across the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. MTG has also reached an agreement with the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) & the NHL to broadcast the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
MTG has held the NHL rights since 2009, and will own the exclusive Nordic rights to all regular season games, the Stanley Cup® Playoffs, the Stanley Cup® Final, and key NHL events over the next five years: NHL Winter Classic®, NHL Stadium Series™, NHL® All-Star, NHL Heritage Classic™, NHL Awards™, and NHL Draft™.

MTG today also announced an agreement with the NHL and the NHLPA to broadcast the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, a two-week tournament taking place in Toronto, Canada from September 17 to October 1, 2016 and featuring eight teams of the world’s best hockey players. With 121 Nordic players under contract with the NHL – including 77 from Sweden – the international tournament will be played between national teams from the U.S., Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, as well as two all-star teams: ‘Team Europe’ and ‘Team North American Young stars’.

Subscribers to MTG’s online streaming service Viaplay will continue to be able to watch all games live. The top games will also be shown live on MTG’s pay-tv sports channels including the dedicated pan-Nordic Viasat Hockey channel and TV3 Sport in Denmark. NHL games can also be broadcast on any of MTG’s ten Nordic free-tv channels.


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