Next year’s World Cup of Hockey will be broadcast by ESPN.
The media giant was awarded exclusive rights to air the 2016 games. They were also granted exclusive media rights to the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey Leagues Player’s Association (NHLPA).
“The place is electric with excitement about getting back into hockey,” ESPN president John Skipper said. “We have a lot of hockey fans here.”
The rights include all tournament games, finals, semi-finals, Round-Robin and the best-of-three and extend to television and radio with most of the games appearing on ESPN and ESPN2. The rights cover more than 20 countries served by ESPN International in their Pacific Rim and Latin North networks.
The decision was announced today by ESPN.
Eight teams made up of the world’s best hockey players, will compete internationally for a best-on-best championship. The teams will include Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden, Team USA, Team Europe and Team North American Young Stars.
It’s expected that more than 150 of the best players in the NHL will participate in the tournament, which is schedule for September 17 through October 1, 2016.
Choosing ESPN meant not signing on with NBC, who have been the NHL’s partner for the past 10 years.
NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, explains, “We have a terrific relationship with NBC. We love the way they cover our game and the way they have treated us throughout our relationship,” and cited “scheduling issues” as part of the reason for partnering with ESPN, also noting that every major US pro league partners with more than one television network.
“Despite suggestions and rumors to the contrary, we have continued to maintain an excellent relationship with NBC,” Bettman said. “There were no points of friction or hard feelings.”
Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director, added, “We are excited to have ESPN as our broadcast partner for what is going to be an incredible tournament featuring over 150 of the top hockey players in the world. ESPN’s reach and storytelling approach will expose our players’ skill and personalities, something that we know will resonate with fans as the tournament unfolds.”
Tournaments can also be viewed via live access on WatchESPN networks through computers and smartphones, Amazon, Apple and Fire TV Stick, as well as Xbox 360 and Xbox One, Chromecast and Roku.
“ESPN broadcast the prior World Cup of Hockey, from Air Canada Centre. Now the World Cup is returning, with ESPN broadcasting in the U.S.,” said Gary Bettman. “We are very pleased and hope our fans will be, as well.”
John Skipper, ESPN President announced, “We are thrilled to resume our partnership with Gary Bettman and the National Hockey League and to work closely with Gary and Don Fehr of the National Hockey League Players Association to make the World Cup of Hockey on ESPN a reality. We look forward to presenting this compelling tournament, with national pride at stake, to fans both in the United States and internationally.”