NHL Network is an American sports-oriented cable and satellite television network that is a joint venture between the National Hockey League (which owns a controlling 84.4% interest) and NBCUniversal (which owns the remaining 15.6%). Dedicated to ice hockey, the network features live game telecasts from the NHL and other professional and collegiate hockey leagues, as well as NHL-related content including analysis programs, specials and documentaries. The channel’s headquarters and studios are located in the Secaucus, New Jersey facilities also utilized by MLB Network. HistoryThe original logo used from 2007 to 2009.
Launched on October 1, 2007, the NHL Network was developed out of a joint venture between the NHL and cable provider Comcast, as part of a broadcast rights agreement that resulted in the NBC Sports Network (then known as Outdoor Life Network) acquiring partial cable television rights to regular season, and Stanley Cup playoff and finals games from the National Hockey League.The NHL Network originally shared some programming with its now-defunct sister network in Canada, with the main differences in programming between the two networks being the carriage of domestically targeted commercials and live game telecasts; NHL Network in the U.S. primarily carries broadcasts from Canadian national rightsholders (such as CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet, and formerly TSN), while the Canadian feed primarily carried games from U.S. broadcasters. The channel also picks up simulcasts of games from regional rightsholders; live games on NHL Network that involve U.S. teams are non-exclusive, and are blacked out in the markets of U.S. teams involved in favor of local broadcasters.Logo used from 2009 to 2011.
The league hired Ascent Media to manage and distribute the channel, through its publicly traded subsidiary, Ascent Media Network Services. When it launched, the NHL Network became the third sports-oriented cable network devoted to programming from and controlled by a major sports league, following the National Basketball Association-owned NBA TV (which launched in March 1999) and the National Football League-owned NFL Network (which launched in November 2003); Major League Baseball would launch its own sports channel, MLB Network, on January 1, 2009.Logo used from 2011 to 2012.
On June 1, 2015, The Globe and Mail columnist David Shoalts reported that NHL Network in Canada would cease operations on September 1, 2015; national media rights to the NHL in Canada had been acquired by Rogers Communications beginning in the 2014-15 season, and the Bell Media staff members who managed the network’s Canadian arm on behalf of the NHL were laid off that July.
In August 2015, it was announced that the NHL had reached a six-year deal with Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) to take over the management of the NHL’s digital properties, as well as NHL Network. Operations and production of NHL Network’s programming was shifted from Toronto to the Secaucus, New Jersey facilities of MLB Network. There has been minor talent sharing between the networks, and MLB Network cross-promoted an NHL Stadium Series game at Coors Field by building a scale hockey rink in its Studio 42 (which itself is designed to resemble a scaled baseball field). For much of the 2015-16 season, NHL Network studio programs originated from redressed versions of existing MLB Network sets (much of the NHL regular season falls during the MLB offseason). In April 2016, coinciding with the start of the playoffs, NHL Network introduced its own 1,200 square-foot studio, “The Rink”.
Comcast, owners of the league’s current cable partner NBCSN, is also the largest cable television provider in the United States. The company was contractually obligated to carry NHL Network on its systems by the summer of 2007 at the latest, so it would be available in time for the 2007–08 NHL season. Both Comcast and the NHL had an option to terminate their contract after the 2006–07 season, which would have voided Comcast’s obligation to launch a U.S. version of NHL Network, but opted to proceed with the launch.
Since its official launch in the United States, the NHL Network announced on October 8, 2007 that it would begin being carried that month on Cablevision, Charter, Cox Communications, DirecTV, Dish Network, Xfinity and Time Warner Cable through carriage agreements that were struck with each of the providers. DirecTV has aired NHL Network on channel 215 since October 31, 2007. Going forward, any provider that already carries NHL Center Ice was expected to begin carrying NHL Network on one of its programming tiers. Some providers offer NHL Network’s high definition simulcast feed, which broadcasts all live games in HD.
NHL.com announced on January 12, 2009 that AT&T U-verse would begin carrying the channel. This was followed on June 2, 2009 with the announcement that NHL Network and Comcast had reached an agreement to carry the channel on the provider’s Digital Classic Tier, which increased subscribership of the channel from the then-estimated two million subscribers in its placement on the “Sports Entertainment” tier to over 10 million on its Digital Classic package. Internationally, the network began to be distributed in Taiwan in 2010 on satellite provider DishHD.
The channel is also available on over-the-top services like DirecTV Now (Through Grandfathered plans only that were only available before revamp) and Sling TV.
On October 1, 2011, AT&T U-verse dropped NHL Network due to a carriage dispute over a planned increase in retransmission payments. On November 18, 2016, the NHL Network returned to AT&T U-verse following a five-year hiatus.
NHL Network broadcast set at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft
NHL Network broadcast set at the 2015 NHL Winter Classic
National Hockey League – NHL Network broadcasts up to 80 regular season NHL games six days a week. Some Saturday games broadcast by the network are sourced by Canadian television group Rogers Media’s Hockey Night in Canada telecasts.
NCAA Hockey – The network holds broadcast rights to live NCAA college hockey games, which air Friday nights during the season.
World Junior Championship – A preeminent worldwide junior tournament held annually that features national hockey teams from 10 countries in an elimination contest for a gold medal.
Minor League Hockey – NHL Network maintains broadcast rights to live and tape-delayed coverage of American Hockey League (AHL) and ECHL games.
Memorial Cup – The network runs the annual junior hockey tournament, in which league champions from the Western Hockey League (WHL), Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) compete for the Memorial Cup championship trophy.
NHL Tonight (formerly NHL on the Fly) – NHL Network’s signature show, which covers on- and off-ice NHL news with highlights, interviews and analysis. Airs nightly at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
NHL on the Fly (formerly NHL on the Fly: Final) – This program covers on- and off-ice NHL news with highlights, interviews and analysis. Airs nightly at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time or after each day’s scheduled games are completed. The series debuted on December 26, 2011.
NHL Now – A two-hour program that features interviews with NHL players and insight from NHL insiders (such as Bob McKenzie, Kevin Allen and Ed Olczyk). The program also shows viewers voicing their opinions from social media on noteworthy news from the day. Broadcasting live from Studio K at MLB Network Studios, the program airs weekdays from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Sportsnet Hockey Central at Noon – Talk program hosted from Rogers Sportsnet Canada
Top 10 – A countdown program focusing on hockey-related topics, from great performances to memorable moments.
Frozen in Time – A retrospective program that features a look back at the greatest moments in the NHL from players, teams, and special events.
Classic Series – A collection of highlights from a past Stanley Cup Playoff series.
Vintage Games – NHL Network airs archived broadcasts of past NHL games in their entirety from the game’s original broadcaster.
Pioneers – A profile series in which NHL legends discuss their groundbreaking careers.
NHL Movie Night/NHL Flicks – A movie program that airs hockey-related theatrical films.
NHL Network also has the right to air various Stanley Cup films from the winning teams from different years.