Report: NHL signs 7-year U.S. broadcast deal with ESPN

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 07:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals is interviewed on the ice by Barry Melrose (L) and Steve Levy from ESPN (R) after the Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in Game Five of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on June 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Capitals won the series four games to one.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
The NHL has reportedly reached a seven-year broadcast partnership with multimedia giant ESPN. (Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL is headed to the big show.

According to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston, the NHL has signed a seven-year U.S. broadcasting rights deal with ESPN. The U.S. sports media juggernaut will own half the league's broadcasting rights throughout the life of the deal, according to Johnston.

Neither the NHL or ESPN has confirmed the agreement, which is expected to see the Stanley Cup Final aired on ESPN four times between 2022 and 2028.

At this time, it's unclear how much ESPN will pay for the rights, or which company they will timeshare with. At current moment, NBC has the exclusive national broadcasting rights in the United States.

Divvying up the rights would be a significant move for the NHL, which is exclusive to its broadcasting partners in the United States and Canada at current moment, therefore limiting exposure and competition between networks. the reality of rival networks has been so critical to the development of leagues like the NFL and NBA, which are seen nationally on multiple broadcasting platforms.

As they say, a rising tide raises all boats, and that should be the intention of the NHL with this U.S. deal.

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