The National Hockey League is passing the puck to Major League Baseball, whose MLB Advanced Media unit will run hockey’s digital video businesses, league and team websites and the NHL Network cable channel.
The unusual big-league team up reflects the fast-changing media landscape and MLBAM’s status as a leader in the digital field. In addition to running online businesses for baseball, MLBAM handles the backend for streaming products including Watch ESPN, CBS’ March Madness On Demand, HBO Now and the WWE Network.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman were set to announce the deal Tuesday afternoon.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a source familiar with the deal estimated it generates about $200 million for the NHL, including rights fees and a roughly 10% equity interest in a new company that would be formed if MLB spins off MLBAM’s third-party digital management business.
NHL chief operating officer John Collins says the NHL’s online business has been growing at a 20% pace annually for the past seven years, but with its contract with digital service provider Neulion (New York Islanders owner Charles Wang is chairman of NeuLion) expiring, the league decided to explore other options.
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