Thursday, September 6, 2012

NHL Labor Dispute Causes NBC/Comcast Problems

The worst case scenario for Comcast-owned NBC, which holds the exclusive national broadcast rights to NHL games, is for the entire upcoming season to be canceled. That's not without precedent. The NHL and its players union scrapped the entire 2004-05 season after failing to achieve a labor deal.

A better, but not ideal, scenario for NBC would be a delay to the NHL season, similar to what happened to the National Basketball Association last year. The first regular season NHL game is scheduled for October 11, but exhibition games start about two weeks earlier. 

The timing could not be worse for Comcast, which is relying on hockey to build up the NBC Sports Network, its fledgling cable sports channel. A lockout would leave the network, previously known as Versus and the Outdoor Life Network, with major holes to fill in its prime-time lineup.

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