For the first time in over 10 years, the self proclaimed “Worldwide Leader in Sports” will televise professional ice hockey on their air. According to TSN’s Rick Westhead, ESPN has won the U.S. broadcast rights to the World Cup of Hockey when it returns in the fall of 2016.
Breaking – TSN has learned ESPN has won the U.S. broadcast rights for the World Cup of Hockey, beating out NBC and Fox.
— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) February 4, 2015
ESPN beat out FOX Sports and the NHL’s current TV partner, NBC Sports for the right to broadcast the tournament.
The NHL’s TV deal with ESPN ran out after the 2004 NHL Lockout, when OLN/Versus/NBC Sports picked up the league. For years, hockey fans have loathed ESPN’s coverage of the game, and their complaints are completely valid. That’s why this deal is quite interesting. If the World Cup of Hockey does well in the ratings, ESPN might give the NHL another look at some point down the road. It’s a low risk, high reward deal for the network. The NHL and NBC agreed to a 10-year deal in 2011. So get ready, all you hockey die-hards, because whether you like it or not, ESPN will be broadcasting your sport once again. Sort of.
The World Cup of Hockey will be played in Toronto during the 2nd half of September 2016. The field consists of 8 teams: United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czech Republic, a North American Under-23 team, and a team consisting of other European nations.