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NHL announces new seven-year deal with ESPN, Walt Disney Company

The NHL has reached a new deal for partnership with ESPN, Disney and ABC.

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

The National Hockey League announced on Wednesday that a seven-year media deal for televisionand streaming rights been reached with the Walt Disney Company.

The deal, effective as of the start of the 2021-22 season, will bring the NHL to Disney platforms such as ESPN and ABC for both regular season and playoff games. Streaming of games will also be available on Disney owned services such as ESPN+ and Hulu. The NHL package for out-of-market games will now be exclusive to ESPN+.

Some highlights of the NHL’s move to Walt Disney platforms will be ESPN and ABC featuring nationally televised regular season games as well as half of the league’s playoff games. In maybe the most prominent component of the deal, ABC will have exclusive rights to the Stanley Cup Final in four of the next seven years.

What does this mean for the NHL? Hockey is going to be in a position to grow vastly. With more widespread viewership, the league has an opportunity to attract new fans, which could increase the amount of revenue the league generates, which could lead to future increases of the salary cap. This broadcast deal allows for the new audiences to experience and become fans of the league’s rising stars such as Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, as well as established future Hall of Famers like Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby.

Personally, I’m very excited about the future of the NHL. The tweet below from ESPN’s John Buccigross confirms that this means the return of the beloved ESPN on NHL theme that was a central part of ESPN’s hockey broadcasts in the 1990s and 2000s.

Now, if we can only get them to bring back Gary Thorne ...