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NHL, MLB agree US media rights deal

The US’s National Hockey League and Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball, have agreed a digital media rights partnership they say will transform the fan experience by creating a fully integrated global hub of digital content that encompasses video, live game streaming, social media, fantasy, apps, along with statistical and analytical content.

With an emphasis on deeper access into the game and telling the stories of NHL players, MLBAM and the NHL will collaborate on developing new digital products and platforms while enhancing current offerings.

The deal awards MLBAM rights to distribute live out-of-market games, including through the NHL GameCenter LIVE and NHL Center Ice subscription services in the United States and certain international markets. MLBAM will operate NHL.com, including the League’s seven native language sites, and Club websites. MLBAM will operate NHL apps and be available to develop apps for the Clubs. The NHL and MLBAM will partner on the design and development of new digital products and platforms. The NHL and its Clubs retain editorial control across all platforms. The Emmy-Award winning MLB Network will provide studio space and production resources for the NHL Network for distribution in the United States and certain international markets.

“As the market leader, MLBAM is uniquely qualified to assist us in giving hockey fans a richer, more immersive experience with the game,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “MLBAM is also the right partner because they have the expertise to help us deliver new and exciting products to our fans, who crave compelling digital content. We couldn’t have North America better covered than with the power of NBC, Rogers, TVA and MLBAM – an incredible convergence of technical, creative and production talent that is great news for our fans.”

“It is an honour for Major League Baseball to stand alongside the National Hockey League on this joint initiative,” said Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. “All of us in sports share a desire to distribute our games and tell our stories as widely and broadly as possible. Because of our own experiences in delivering baseball to its loyal fans, MLB Advanced Media is uniquely suited to excel in a partnership of this magnitude.”

Key details of the partnership include:

  • 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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