Canada sports channel, NHL ink digital rights deal

Mon Apr 5, 2010 4:46pm EDT
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By Etan Vlessing

TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - With basketball's March Madness wrapping, Canadian cable sports channel Score Media is pivoting to the Stanley Cup playoff rounds by striking a first-ever digital rights deal with the National Hockey League.

The deal will see NHL game highlights and other pro hockey league content, including live in-game blogging and chat, stream on Score Media's newly re-launched Web site.

On the main TV platform, Canadians will watch the Stanley Cup round of playoff and championship games on both the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and the Sports Channel, while Versus and NBC provide coverage stateside.

The digital rights deal for Score Media also comes ahead of a possible second southern Ontario NHL team, likely northwest of Toronto, or one in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Despite the dominance of American teams during the Stanley Cup playoffs in recent years, Canadian TV hockey ratings have spiked since Canada beat the United States in the gold medal round at the recent Vancouver Olympic Games. Score Media's cable sports channel, The Score, reaches about 6.2 million Canadian homes with a blend of sports news, scores, statistics and some live game coverage.