Turner TV Deal Is Good News For New Jersey Devils

General Manager, TBS, TNT and truTV Brett Weitz (Photo by Presley Ann/Getty Images for TNT)
General Manager, TBS, TNT and truTV Brett Weitz (Photo by Presley Ann/Getty Images for TNT) /

The NHL and Turner broadcasting are expected to announce a new TV deal in the coming days. This comes just a few months after the NHL announced a new deal with ESPN to be their main broadcast partner. This is all obviously great news for the league. They actually got a bidding war that got them a great price and an even better deal when it comes to exposure of the league. This is going to be the best thing Gary Bettman does for the league in his long tenure (although, it doesn’t make up for all of the lockouts).

The latest deal will pay the NHL $225 per season for the next seven seasons according to multiple sources including the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand. That means the NHL is getting a minimum of $625 million per season over the next seven seasons. For a sport that was reportedly coming up with its TV deal at the “worst time”, the NHL did a wonderful job. They always wanted to split the deal to get the most out of it, and they found two partners that were more than willing to split the difference. The NHL makes somewhere in the $300 million range for its U.S. TV deal now. This is a major upgrade.

The Turner deal is much, much better for a team like the New Jersey Devils who are desperate to build a bigger audience. They have extremely likeable players who young folks could learn to grow with. Jack Hughes is already on his way to being a star, and those who never really got into hockey might look more into the Devils with him at the forefront. It also really helps that he will be wearing the red, white, and blue when the NHL returns to the Olympics. Nico Hischier is a very likeable player with a great personality and the perfect “fan favorite” mentality. There are plenty of other young players who will get people excited.

Don’t compare this NHL deal to the deals other sports got. The NFL and NBA have a huge fanbase on their own already. Baseball could use some help, but they haven’t had the same situations. Where one should see how the NHL made the right decision is how professional wrestling is being marketed.

Turner broadcasting got a deal with new wrestling company AEW. The Cody (formerly Rhodes)-led company gets a ton of air time across Turner platforms, which includes Inside the NBA. They went so far as to have a match with Shaq. TNT went all in on wrestling because they had every reason to make it work.

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Then on FOX, they used the NFL to push people to watch WWE Smackdown on Friday nights. They play commercials for wrestling’s second biggest weekly program in spots they could sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This is to show that the networks want to build new stars in non-traditional “sports”, even if that sport is scripted. A team like the Devils could really get something out of that non-traditional marketing.

Of course, this might not work out that way. The networks could fall into old habits and play the Original Six as many times as they can, but one would assume these networks would learn from the mistakes of NBC. It’s time to market new stars. The New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks will always get their play because they are in some of the biggest markets, but these networks will want to know who they can put on a poster. Who can they send into communities that never even thought about hockey and get them to become lifelong fans. The Devils have those kinds of players, and despite their struggles, this team will be an intriguing one in due time for these broadcast partners. Maybe next year won’t see much of a change, but once this team starts competing, expect to see more nationally televised games.