NHL.com Streaming HD via Level 3

December 3rd, 2008 by · 2 Comments

The National Hockey League has chosen Level 3 to stream its content in high def (HD) on www.nhl.com. As deals go, this one isn’t a shocker.  Back in October, they had unveiled their subscription based “NHL GameCenter Live“, and Level 3’s existing relationship with the NHL via Vyvx made them the likely candidate. Indeed, the NHL seems to prefer a one-stop shop in this case.

In a way, the NHL is the perfect online streaming candidate.  When it comes to professional sports on TV in North America, hockey is nearly always the odd man out.  The NFL, NBA, MLB, and even tennis and golf take priority, and the NHL struggles for viewership scraps with the occasional soccer match.  The fan base is devoted, but just too small even when you do add in all of Canada.  The theory goes that online streaming gives such niche audiences something they can’t get elsewhere, the attention and focus its fans crave.  The NHL niche seems to be just the right size:  large enough to drive viewership, but small enough to get the short end of the stick.  Apparently the NHL seems to think there is solid demand out there, and with a $20.99/month pricetag for a GameCenter Live subscription there had better be.

Baseball has done well with MLB.com with such a subscription model, and I think that the NHL should also see some success, assuming of course they can put together a compelling offer and maintain it through the season.  In Level 3 they do have a partner that is out to prove itself as a force in the CDN business, they have a common interest in seeing this venture succeed.  They have the ingredients, time to make the souffle.  On the other hand, betting on two classic underachievers like LVLT and the NHL to win has been kind of like betting on the bad news bears…

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