Disney and the National Hockey League (NHL) have just signed a massive new TV rights deal for the next seven years, starting with the upcoming 2021-2022 season. The deal will see ESPN and ESPN Plus become key places to watch and stream hockey games.
Since ESPN’s previous deal with the NHL expired in 2005, this is the first time that it will offer NHL games, and this time streaming is a huge part of that deal — particularly, ESPN Plus streaming.
NHL.TV is effectively being replaced by ESPN Plus as the NHL’s out-of-market streaming service. There will be over 1,000 games each season available for the fans to stream. ESPN and the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) will also get 25 exclusive national regular-season games each season, while ESPN Plus and Hulu will give exclusive access to 75 games a year.
Additionally, for four of the seven years, ABC will get exclusive rights to the Stanley Cup Final with the option to simultaneously broadcast those finals games on ESPN Plus and other linear ESPN networks. Furthermore, ESPN and ABC will get to broadcast together half of the NHL playoffs each season, too. (Specifically, Disney’s networks will get one of the Conference Final series and half of all the first-round and second-round games each year.)
When it comes to offering live sports from one of the major North American leagues, This new NHL deal marks one of the biggest expansions for ESPN Plus. For hockey fans across the U.S., it is now a must-have service. Thanks to the exclusive broadcast of 75 games on Hulu and ESPN Plus, the NHL deal will offer a new wave of live sports on Hulu (which will be available to all unlike the other ESPN Plus games Hulu subscribers whether they subscribe to ESPN Plus or not).
According to a report by The Verge, this new deal comes just as “Disney is rolling out a larger integration for ESPN Plus subscribers to be able to access that additional sports content within Hulu itself, which should help make it even easier for subscribers of both of those services to find the newly added NHL games when they debut this fall.”
At $5.99 per month, you can subscribe to ESPN Plus alone, or you can bundle it alongside Hulu with ads and Disney Plus for $13.99 per month.