NBC, NHL to skate another year


NEW YORK -- NBC Sports has reached a one-year extension of its revenue-sharing agreement with the NHL through the 2007-08 season.

Financial terms of the deal weren't announced, though the network and the NHL have shared ad revenue from its once-a-week game plus the Stanley Cup Finals since hockey returned last season. NBC also has a one-year option for another year that is the 2008-09 season.

The new agreement brings the NFL idea of flexible scheduling, which arrived for NBC with this past season's "Sunday Night Football," to the ice. The NHL has agreed to NBC carrying a weekly flexible schedule for its nine regular season games, which will happen on Sundays for the first time next season . (The games had been mixed between Saturdays and Sundays last season and this season.)

NBC and the NHL will jointly pick a "Game of the Week" to appear on the network, which will eliminate most if not all of the regional games that the network had been producing for parts of the country.

"The flex scheduling gives us the ability to make judgments as to what the best game will be," NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer said. This also will reduce the production costs that are taken out before either NBC or the NHL receives the revenue sharing because multiple games won't have to be produced.

NBC's postseason will include Saturday and Sunday postseason games plus games 3-7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, just like the current deal.

NBC is in the second year of its revenue-sharing deal with the NHL that was announced May 19, 2004, though delayed with the lockout until the 2005-06 season. Schanzer said that NBC has made money on the NHL deal but declined to be specific.

While the ratings aren't major sports league strong, the deal is working for NBC.

"The ratings are about where we anticipated they would be," Schanzer said.