Major League Baseball & NHL Team Up In ‘Groundbreaking’ Digital Deal

Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League have entered into what NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said is an “unprecedented partnership” in the digital space. He and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced today a six-year deal between the pro hockey league and MLB Advanced Media that will create for the NHL “a fully integrated global hub of digital content that encompasses video, live game streaming, social media, fantasy, apps, along with statistical and analytical content.”

“If you’re an NHL fan, you’re going to get more content and better content that ever before,” Bettman said during a conference call announcing the partnership. “We’re not turning hockey into baseball; we’re not turning baseball into hockey. We’re trying to see if one plus one equals three, or even more than three.”

Terms of the deal were not announced, but a reporter asked Bettman if they include a rights fee and equity plan. He answered abruptly, “Yes.” Another asked him if your least tech-savvy fan asked what you’ve bought into, what would you tell them? “More and better than you ever imagined,” Bettman said.

Here are some key aspects of the partnership:

• MLBAM receives exclusive rights to distribute live, out-of-market NHL telecasts in the United States and certain international markets, including via the NHL GameCenter LIVE subscription service.

• MLBAM receives exclusive rights to distribute live, out-of-market telecasts via the NHL Center Ice subscription service in the United States to cable, satellite and over-the-air broadcasters.

• MLBAM receives exclusive rights to operate the NHL Network as an agent for the NHL. The NHL Network’s daily on-air operations will be based out of MLB Network’s headquarters in Secaucus, N.J.

MLBAM expects to fully launch its NHL presence in January 2016. Prior digital partner NeuLion will assist the League and MLBAM through the transition period.

“NeuLion has been a terrific partner,” Bettman said. “We could not have established the deep foundation we have in digital content without their expertise and talented people.”

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