Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The key to everything in the NHL


I mentioned in the Links that the NHL has signed a new TV contract with NBC and Versus for the next 10 years. In the Toronto Globe and Mail's article on the subject was this line:
The anticipated loss of one or two U.S. franchises to Canada does not appear to have been an impediment to the new contract. Phoenix and Atlanta, both thought to be targets for Canadian relocation, are both in the top 12 American media markets. 
Aha. Now it becomes crystal clear. Gary Bettman has been extraordinarily reluctant to even suggest that one of those Sun Belt teams that is so frequently derided for their lack of fans could be moved north, and people generally couldn't quite wrap their head around why. But just like the Big Ten wants to expand into New York, and everyone wants to expand into Texas, it's about media markets. The more giant cities the NHL was in, the better chance for more money out of an American TV contract. The Canadian contract wouldn't gain much value with an additional team, because hockey would be watched their regardless.
Now that the teams in Phoenix and Atlanta (for example) have survived this long for the benefit of the league, the owners of those teams will no longer be left to twist in the wind. Finally, low revenue teams are going to be allowed to head back to Canada where they belong.

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