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The NHL’s seven-year deal with Turner Sports will bring the Stanley Cup finals to TNT

The NHL and Turner Sports inked a new media rights deal that will put the Stanley Cup finals on TNT in three of the next seven seasons. (Chris Carlson/AP)

The NHL and Turner Sports announced a new rights deal Tuesday that will put the Stanley Cup finals on cable and deliver a substantial increase in revenue for the league after its decade-long deal with NBC expires at the end of this season.

As part of the deal, TNT will air the Stanley Cup finals in three of the next seven seasons — ABC will air the other four — and TNT and TBS will broadcast 72 regular season games, including the Winter Classic, as well as early-round playoff series and a conference final.

Terms of the deal were not announced, but according to a person with knowledge of the agreement, the NHL will receive around an average of $225 million per season.

ESPN and the NHL signed a seven-year deal, announced last month, that will pay the league around $2.8 billion over seven years, or roughly $400 million per season. That left a second package for the NHL to sell. Like MLB, the NBA and the NFL, the NHL now has multiple national media partners.

The NHL’s new rights deals, which total about $625 million annually, are worth more than double what the league currently receives — approximately $200 million from NBC and $100 million from a streaming deal with ESPN.

“We think that the arrangements we have now are much more reflective of the value that we bring as compelling content,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

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The NHL has been broadcast on NBC and its cable outlets — and this year’s playoffs remain on the network — since a 10-year, $200 million pact began in 2011. NBC spent upward of $2 billion to retain “Sunday Night Football” for the next decade-plus earlier this year, opening the door for Turner to get into the hockey business.

Turner now owns regular season rights to MLB, the NBA and the NHL, in addition to sharing the NCAA men’s basketball tournament with CBS, making the company a formidable sports destination.

The NHL deal includes the ability for Turner to stream some games on HBO Max, which is owned by Turner’s parent company, WarnerMedia. But Jeff Zucker, chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports, said the network had no immediate plans to stream games.

“For now, the focus will be on the Turner networks,” he said. “We want to be where the consumer is and where the consumer is skating to, as it were, and so we’re going to go where the puck is going. That will happen over time.”

The NHL’s deal with ESPN calls for 25 regular season games on ESPN or ABC and four Stanley Cup finals series on ABC. As part of that deal, Hulu and ESPN Plus, ESPN’s streaming service, will have 75 exclusive telecasts per season. Also, ESPN Plus essentially will swallow the NHL’s in-house streaming service and air approximately 1,000 out-of-market games.

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