Interactive Cyber Enterprises (ICE), the digital arm of the National Hockey League, announced today a deal to provide video of NHL full-length games on delay to Google Video. Google also will be able to show select NHL classic games.
The National Hockey League, now in cable TV's backwaters, has tapped Google Inc. to find a larger viewing audience.I think this is a very smart, forward looking move by the league. In addition to the game content, the NHL also will work with Google to allow certain NHL themed user-generated content on their site. This is the first time Google Video has worked with a major professional sports league in such a manner.
In so doing, it's giving Google an opportunity to experiment with a new way of making money from its growing collection of video-dispensing Web sites.
ESPN, the No. 1 sports channel on cable TV, used to show a lot of North America's professional hockey league games but subsequently it let the broadcasting rights expire due to bad ratings. Games are now shown on OLN, the Outdoor Life Network; which is a hockey broadcasting newcomer and with an audience that pales compared to ESPN.
In stepped Google with a way back to the mainstream. Starting Wednesday, every 2006-2007 regular-season NHL game can be watched, for free, on Google Video, the world's No. 4 most popular video-providing Web site.
Google's corralled all the NHL material onto a single Web site, which comes across as a kind of NHL TV on the Internet, where thousands of NHL games are available to view through an Internet browser, or to download onto a personal computer to watch at a later time.
The games are shown in their entirety and advertising-free. But that is likely to change, according to Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker. "We are hoping to make this content ad supported, enabling the NHL to earn revenue from online distribution of this content," he said.
He wouldn't disclose any additional terms of the multi-year deal between Google and the NHL.
Check it out.