Reports: TNT to buy what's left of NHL's national broadcasting rights

The NHL has sold its "B" package.

In an agreement yet to be made official, the NHL will reportedly enter into a seven-year national broadcasting partnership with Turner Sports, finalizing a total U.S. television package that was bolstered earlier this year with the league's return to ESPN.

Siding with ESPN and now Turner's TNT, the NHL's 15-year partnership with NBC will come to an end at the conclusion of this season, while networks like FOX and CBS, who may or may not have had interest, will remain on the outside.

TNT will receive three of the next seven Stanley Cup finals beginning next season, while the remaining four belong to ESPN as part of its deal. Turner will spend "in the neighbourhood of $225 million" each season for the package, which value the total agreement at upwards of $1.6 billion.

TNT will also be the new home to the Winter Classic on New Year's Day, according to ESPN's Greg Wyshynski.

TNT needs to find a way to get Charles Barkley involved in their hockey coverage. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
TNT needs to find a way to get Charles Barkley involved in its hockey coverage. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

It's hard not to see this as a colossal win for the NHL, for the financial windfall alone. The league had to nail these negotiations, and did, brokering two separate deals worth more than the one being nurtured for a long time with NBC for a total value of over $600 million per season.

But just as important, the NHL has the opportunity to reach new audiences, here. And by diversifying the broadcast structure with two major networks, ESPN and TNT will have to compete to put on the superior product, just as they do now with the NBA.

Unlike ESPN, which did have a hockey offering before the partnership, we really have no idea what the product could look like from TNT.

But if Turner recreate its success with Inside the NBA, or just lends Charles Barkley to the major events and games, it figures to be a smashing success for the NHL.

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