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Disney Unveils National Hockey League Pact, Expands Streaming

Disney unveiled a deal with the NHL that will see ESPN+ stream more than 1,000 live NHL games per season.

Disney  (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report unveiled a seven-year broadcast agreement with the National Hockey League on Wednesday that emphasizes streaming.

Shares of the Burbank, Calif., entertainment and media giant at last check were up 0.2% to $194.92.

Under the new agreement, the NHL's Stanley Cup Final and Stanley Cup Playoffs will return to the ABC and ESPN networks, including coverage of the Stanley Cup Final in four of the seven years of the deal, beginning with the 2021-22 season.

There also will be 100 regular-season games each season on ESPN and the company’s streaming platforms. 

Disney is paying about $2 billion to $2.25 billion for the package, according to Sportico.

Throughout the regular season, 25 games from the NHL schedule will be carried live, exclusively on ABC or ESPN.

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Live game coverage, plus studio, surround and original programming plans across all of Disney's networks and streaming platforms, will be announced in coming months. This includes a new weekly studio show during the NHL season on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.

Beginning with the start of the 2021-22 season in October, ESPN+ will stream more than 1,000 live NHL games per season. These include 75 national games per season produced by ESPN and streamed exclusively on both ESPN+ and Hulu, which Disney said is a first. 

The agreement also comes as Disney is launching ESPN+ on Hulu, which will give Hulu subscribers with access to the service’s on-demand streaming library the choice to sign up for, and view, ESPN+.

As of Jan. 2, Hulu had 39.4 million subscribers (including 4 million live TV customers), according to Variety, up 30% year-over-year. ESPN+ subscribers rose 83% to 12.1 million.

On Tuesday, Disney said that its Disney+ streaming surpassed 100 million global paid subscribers just 16 months after it launched.

Disney had announced the NHL agreement earlier Wednesday, Bloomberg reported, but withdrew the statement before reposting it.

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