The Philadelphia Inquirer has confirmed that Comcast’s NBC Sports Group will pay the full $180 million it owes the NHL for the rights to air games this season, whether or not a single puck ever drops.
While that’s only a fraction of the money the league would stand to lose from a fully canceled season, it does have to ease the pain somewhat.
“One wonders how resolute the NHL would be in its negotiating if it didn’t have the $180 million guarantee in its back pocket,” writes the Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi.
Comcast, which (via Comcast Spectacor) also happens to own the Philadelphia Flyers, says there is a condition built into its 10-year deal with the NHL that gives the broadcaster a free year at the end of the deal if a lockout occurs.
But as Carchidi points out, “Theoretically, the 11th year would be worth more than $180 million, so NBC would seem to be gaining in the ‘trade-off’ and paying for the first year even if all games are canceled.”
There are still faint hopes that the two sides will hammer out a deal this week, allowing the league to get in a full season. If the impasse continues beyond this weekend, there will not be sufficient time to squeeze in training and all 82 games.