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May 3, 2021 Observer Newsletter: UFC 261 recap, NHL-Turner deal


Turner Broadcasting and the NHL announced a deal on 4/27, which had been rumored the day before, for a seven-year contract that would include games on TBS, TNT, Bleacher Report and HBO Max.

NBC, which held the rights, officially pulled out of the bidding days earlier. WWE President Nick Khan on 4/22 was the first to say publicly that he didn’t expect NBC to get the second half of the NHL package. The package was going to go to USA as part of NBC for Wednesday night games weekly during the season. The plan was to start late this season to acclimate viewers to USA as the home for hockey when NBC Sports Network, the previous home, is shut down. The idea was to strengthen USA by giving them more live sports programming with the NHL and NASCAR being the prime properties. But NBCU made a low bid.

Turner bid $225 million per year for a deal that would start in the 2021-2022 season and last until the 2027-2028 season. In Canada a few days earlier it was being reported that FOX and FS 1 were the favorites to get the second half of the NHL package. There were multiple suitors for the weaker second half of the package after ESPN and ABC had bid $400 million for the primary package.

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