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NBC to Become Home of the NHL in 2004-05

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

NEW YORK -- The National Hockey League and NBC Sports today announced a partnership in which NBC will televise NHL games beginning in 2004-05. The two-year agreement may be renewed for an additional two years at NBC's option. The joint announcement was made today by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics.

"We're thrilled to be entering into a partnership with the NHL," Ebersol said. "We're acquiring a major, established sport that is rich in tradition - and we're doing it in a way which fits our strong historical commitment to financially sound deals which offer significant upside for both parties."
The revenue sharing agreement calls for NBC, beginning in January 2005, to televise seven regular season games and six Stanley Cup playoff games in regular Saturday afternoon timeslots. In addition, NBC will broadcast Games 3-7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in primetime.

"NBC is renowned for innovative programming and unique promotion of its sports properties," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "From the days of our Game of the Week in the '70s and onward, through our relationship at the Olympics, NBC has demonstrated an understanding of hockey and the commitment to the promotion of the game and its stars. We're delighted to be in a partnership with NBC."
Ebersol: "Clearly, the NHL understands the importance of the broadcast platform and also realizes that the cycle of broadcasters absorbing profound losses in sports rights is coming to an end. We bring to the NHL promotional intensity and creativity along with a powerful distribution system that got even better with the recent Universal merger.

"This deal is a tribute to Ken Schanzer and his extremely effective efforts in implementing our sports strategy through deals such as this one over the past few years. The NHL game is terrific and we relish the opportunity to work with Gary Bettman and his team to continue the increase in viewership which began during this year's Stanley Cup playoffs."

This partnership, subject to NHL board approval, represents a homecoming of sorts for the NHL, whose first broadcast network contract was with NBC in 1966 to air Stanley Cup playoff games. NBC's NHL heritage also includes the "Peter Puck" era from 1972-73 through 1974-75 and NHL All-Star Game telecasts from 1991-94.

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