After reports surfaced Tuesday evening of negotiations between ESPN and the NHL, the league announced Wednesday morning a groundbreaking television deal in the United States. This will see ESPN carry four of the next seven Stanley Cup Finals.
ESPN, the parent company of Disney, giving the NHL a second platform in the U.S. is a huge deal for the future of the game. Given the terms of the agreement, the deal will attract new followers, not just to the NHL, but to the game of hockey from a grassroots standpoint.
The NHL, now being more skilled, fast and talented, will provide young stars like Jack Hughes and Alexis Lafreniere a big platform to play on right across the United States. Right now, the National Hockey League is growing its foot print in places such as Florida and Arizona, as well as Texas, New Jersey and California to name a few non-traditional markets that have grown rather well and are continuing to do so.
ESPN being a widely popular U.S. TV partner is a major platform for the NHL players to increase their fanbases, as well as to promote themselves. The NHL, with the help of polarizing figures such as P.K. Subban, Tom Wilson and Brad Marchand, brings a very unique attitude that almost appears more like a cult personality.
Yes, ESPN needs to keep fans and viewers engaged, so casual and die hard fans alike can digest information, whether they agree on something or not. From an American perspective, getting ESPN inked to a deal, while NBC moves their hockey services to Peacock, will make ads on other live broadcasts more intriguing for those watching other sports.
At the end of the day, hockey fans in the United States should be very ecstatic to have a game they love to share with others thanks to this new agreement. Americans should pick up some merchandise and spread the love of the game across the U.S. as the sport itself continues growing its outreach.