The CBC and the NHL announced a new television deal Monday that will keep Hockey Night in Canada on the air until 2014.
The six-year broadcast deal, which includes national English-language broadcast and multimedia rights to NHL games in Canada, will begin when the current agreement between the CBC and the league expires after the 2007-08 season. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
"Can you imagine seven more years of me? How can it get any better?" Don Cherry, co-host of Coach's Corner, told CBC Sports Online.
"I'm very happy. [Hockey Night in Canada ] should be on the CBC. It's been on the CBC [since the 1950s] and this is where it belongs."
CBC's Hockey Night in Canada is currently in its 54th season on television.
The CBC and NHL made the official announcement during a news conference at the network's Toronto broadcast centre with the Stanley Cup trophy present.
"Some parts of my job never grow old — one of the fun parts is having the honour of presenting this magnificent trophy each year to the captain of the team that wins the Stanley Cup," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters.
"Another [fun part] is being able to play a role in carrying on the tradition that is vitally important to Canadians, namely to bring Hockey Night in Canada to over one million hockey fans in Canada each Saturday night."
"This is the first day of a very exciting future for us and the NHL," added Richard Stursberg, the executive vice-president of CBC Television.
Financial terms of the contract were not released (the current deal is worth $65 million a season), but Stursberg claimed the CBC will make money on the new deal.
Stursberg explained that 45 per cent of CBC Television's financing comes from public money — the other 55 per cent is private money.
"This is financed completely out of private money … There is no public money involved in this deal," said Stursberg, adding that revenue generated from the deal will help finance other, less-profitable CBC programs.
As part of the new deal, the CBC will maintain exclusive Canadian coverage of NHL games on Saturday nights, including traditional doubleheaders and more regional telecasts.
The CBC also retains exclusive Canadian coverage of the Stanley Cup Final, the NHL all-star game and the annual NHL awards, and continued coverage of Canadian teams in the playoffs, ensuring national coverage of all Canadian clubs involved in the post-season.
Also, a multimedia package including live and on-demand video streaming of all CBC's hockey broadcasts will be available online at CBC.ca in the near future. That means fans in Canada will be able to watch any Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on CBC.ca, regardless of what game is being broadcast in their area of the country.
"We should be making our content available whatever way you want it, whatever time is most convenient to you," said Stursberg.
Under the terms of the new deal, CBC gives up some of its existing TV rights, but will still carry the bulk of the playoff series involving Canadian teams.
Fewer Leafs games, more other Canadian teams
Bettman said the new deal will feature fewer Toronto Maple Leafs games during the regular season, with more dates being allocated for other Canadian teams.
"The mix is not going to be what it's been in previous years," Bettman said. "We decreased the number of the Leaf games and increased the number of games of the other Canadian teams that can be made available."
Monday's announcement was a big win for the CBC because the public broadcaster suffered some setbacks in negotiations for key television properties the past few years.
In December 2006, the Canadian Football League announced a new five-year television contract with TSN, a deal that leaves the CBC watching from the sidelines once its current agreement with the league expires after the 2008 season.
CBC also lost the rights to Canadian Curling Association properties, such as the Brier and Tournament of Hearts, to CTV-TSN in 2006.
In 2005, a Bell Globemedia-Rogers Communications consortium won the rights to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. CBC had held Olympic broadcast rights since 1996.
CBC Sports responded to those losses by signing an eight-year agreement with FIFA that includes the rights to the next two soccer World Cups, a four-year deal for alpine skiing and an eight-year contract for the World Curling Tour's Grand Slam events.
Bettman and Stursberg confirmed that negotiations lasted almost a year.
There had been growing speculation for several months that CTV Globemedia would make a major push to take away the NHL rights from the CBC, but in the end, the league decided to renew its deal with the public broadcaster.
"We've always been delighted with the relationship we've had with the CBC. We know that Hockey Night in Canada is an institution and since we were able to work out all the issues regarding an extension, we thought this was the right place to be for the future," Bettman told CBC Newsworld after the press conference.