Disney Will Launch Their Own Streaming Service, May Help NHL Viewership (Report)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 04: J.T. Miller #10 of the New York Rangers celebrates his goal at 4:35 of the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Madison Square Garden on February 4, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Disney will launch an ESPN video streaming service in early 2018, which will include MLB, NHL and MLS content.

Disney announced that it will be pulling its content from Netflix and start its own direct-to-consumer streaming service. Michelle Castillo of CNBC writes “within this deal, Disney will launch an ESPN video streaming service in early 2018. The platform, which will feature about 10,000 sporting events each year, will have content from the MLB, NHL, MLS, collegiate sports and tennis’ Grand Slam events.”  

This could change the game for the NHL in regards to viewing hockey games. But there are many hurdles to jump over in order for this to happen for the NHL and its teams.

Currently, the NHL package is covered by NBC and its family of networks. Their contract with the NHL doesn’t expire for three more years. This time frame does work well, as the deal with Netflix wouldn’t go into effect until the end of 2018.

In an interview with BSN Avalanche Podcast, ESPN SportsCenter anchor and part-time hockey broadcaster John Buccigross said he believes “[ESPN] and the NHL will become partners again within the next three years when the league’s current U.S. television contract with NBC expires.”

Buccigross continued. “I’m real optimistic that we’ll be a part of the NHL plan next time, I’m not in the negotiations or decisions, but the negotiations open up in two years, and the [NBC] deal ends in three. There’s no doubt ESPN [was] very aggressive last time trying to get the package, and we’ll be very aggressive this time.. and I feel good about our chances to get some.. to have games in the next package.”

In order for Disney and ESPN to provide this streaming service, they will need a good streaming provider. That’s where BAM Technology comes into play.

Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal believes that this deal will solidify the streaming package for all of the sports they want to show. Disney is buying a majority ownership of BAM Tech to coincide with the move, thus creating its own streaming service.

What does this mean to the NHL and the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils? The league and its partners would have a way of getting fans the games they want to see.

As you may have seen, NBC released its 2017-18 NHL television schedule earlier this week. Fans were not happy with what they are offering. Two of the game’s brightest young stars, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Toronto’s Austin Mathews will only appear three times each on national television.

Fans want more of a say of what games they can watch. This streaming service may be exactly what the fans are looking for. But a lot of pieces need to come together in order for a new streaming deal to come to life.

Despite the current NBC deal, many have long believed that the NHL would eventually go back to ESPN. All the parties involved have about three years to work out the details. A streaming service like this could generate millions for the NHL, ESPN and their partners.

Disney is home to the Magic Kingdom. Can all of this get put together so that the NHL and its fans get another opportunity to enjoy that magic again?

A graduate of St. John's University class of '91. I have been a fan of the New York Rangers since the days of Peter Puck. Founder of Ranger Proud, the Facebook page that covers all news, notes, pre /post-game stats, and player quotes. I can be reached at Nyrfc12@gmail.com