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Sinclair, NHL Reach Deal That Paves The Way For Streaming

Sinclair has expressed their interest in direct-to-consumer sports content.

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Sinclair Broadcast Group has announced that its Diamond Sports Group unit has reached a renewal of its rights deal with the National Hockey League that covers the 12 teams whose games are on Sinclair’s Bally regional sports networks.

Sinclair has expressed an interest in direct-to-consumer sports content. According to the company, this deal gives its Bally RSNs permission to offer streaming content, including live games, on an authenticated and direct-to-consumer basis to the local territories of the 12 teams.

The agreement was expanded to allow post-game highlights on Sinclair’s digital news platforms, alternate feeds, and the use of the NHL’s puck and player tracking data in game broadcasts.

The 12 teams covered by the new agreement are the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, and Tampa Bay Lightning.

“We are incredibly proud to continue to partner with the NHL, with which we have had a long and successful relationship, to bring the fast pace and excitement of hockey to local fans across the country,” said Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley. “Our announcement today signifies the importance that both parties place on the ability for sports viewers to consume content whenever and however they choose. The advent of a DTC model will further enhance flexibility for viewers, as well as offer them a highly-personalized and engaging experience, with functionality and interactivity well beyond what is offered today.”

This announcement is huge for Diamond Sports Network. More direct-to-consumer content is urgent for the entity because it is a significant amount of debt. This extension is believed to be the a step in the most profitable plan of action for Sinclair.

Ripley said last week during a conference that a deal could be on the horizon with the NBA as well, which could have even more direct-to-consumer content strategies involved.

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NBC Testing Nielsen Competitor for Super Bowl, Olympics

“NBCU is hoping a successful test leads to switching to iSpot.tv’s data going forward.”

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Networks have been unhappy with Nielsen for a while now, a recent issue involving Nielsen admitting to erroneously underreporting viewership numbers has not helped matters.

Most networks, however, have stuck with them due to Nielsen’s hold on the ad sales industry for decades.  NBCUniversal has decided to explore other options, going so far as to plan an upcoming test with an upstart Nielsen competitor during two of the biggest events in television: the Super Bowl and the Olympics.

According to a Los Angeles Times report from Stephen Battaglio, NBCUniversal will use data from iSpot.tv to provide viewing information on the two major events next month. Publicis Media, which owns several major ad-buying companies, has agreed to participate in the test with several of its clients.

NBCUniversal remains a client of Nielsen and will continue to use its ratings for the events. But the test with iSpot.tv — which has a multi-year deal to provide its services to NBCU — will be the most high-profile effort to promote a viable competitor to Nielsen.

The Times report states that this is more than just a bluff, as NBCU is hoping a successful test leads to switching to iSpot.tv’s data going forward. That would certainly mark a major shift, and it’s all tied back to NBC and other networks being dissatisfied with how Nielsen calculates non-traditional viewing. Considering that’s a growing portion of viewership, especially in key demographics, and that it’s only going to be more important going forward.

Obviously, the Super Bowl will pull numbers regardless, on traditional and non-traditional platforms. But NBC pays billions for the Olympics, and this move seems intended at finding more satisfactory tracking data it can present to advertisers.

But NBCU executives are of the mind that consumers have been watching more due to the variety of streaming options.  The network is hoping the data from iSpot.tv will confirm their assumption.

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Nabil Karim To Cover NHL and NBA For Turner

“Karim makes his debut Friday night on NBA TV.”

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Turner Sports and Nabil Karim have agreed on a multi-year deal. Karim will serve as a studio host and reporter for basketball and hockey programming.  An official announcement is expected later today.

Karim makes his debut Friday night on NBA TV. Most recently with ESPN, the British Columbia native was at TSN from 2011-2019, hosting a well-rounded suite of premier events.

He joined The Kyle Koster Show to talk about his new role, what he’s most excited about, and his career journey to this point.

“I think about broadcasters, and I wonder how many of them, their favorite two sports are hockey and basketball,” Nabil Karim said. “Being a Canadian, growing up with hockey, that was 1a and 1b for me. When Turner acquired NHL and this opportunity came up to work in hockey and basketball, it was a no-brainer.”

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Pete Thamel Joins ESPN as College Football Insider

“Richard Deitsch of The Athletic notes that Thamel will become a “major” part of College GameDay.”

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Just like the NFL, the news rarely stops in college football these days. That is why ESPN is hiring someone to cover the sport the way Adam Schefter covers the NFL. That someone will be Yahoo’s Pete Thamel.

Andrew Marchand reported Wednesday night that Thamel is expected to join ESPN in a insider role covering college football.

ESPN already has three reporters that it classifies as “college football insiders.” Those are Heather Dinich, Adam Rittenberg and Mark Schlabach. Thamel appears set to become the face of that operation though.

Richard Deitsch of The Athletic notes that Thamel will become a “major” part of College GameDay.

Thamel’s hire continues something of a trend for ESPN. Marchand points out that whenever the network is in the market for an insider to cover a sport, it tends to go shopping at Yahoo!. Pete Thamel joins Adrian Wojnarowski and Jeff Passan as insiders that left the site for Bristol.

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