Premier Sports To Air NHL

12 Oct

In some long awaited news, UK channel Premier Sports has signed a deal to air up to ten NHL games per week. It will debut this weekend with three games including a live broadcast of the Anaheim/San Jose matchup. We will update this post with details and hopefully a schedule once they get passed along. The only negative to this deal seems to be that Premier is not widely carried and it lacks HD. The network is not available on Virgin Media at this time.


Posted by on October 12, 2011 in NHL, Television


19 responses to “Premier Sports To Air NHL

  1. adam Maggs

    October 12, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    this is a joke. £5 connection & £8 a month after it. The other sports on the channel are dull, theres no HD either. Guess I’m not watching NHL this year, also, bye bye ESPN.

  2. JeffUK

    October 12, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    My thoughts on this:

    Very very disappointed by this news, exactly what I’d feared. Such a shame because the coverage on ESPN America was so good- lots of live games, HD, NHL on the Fly, HNIC live most weeks.

    Sadly it was the right move to phone and cancel ESPN America earlier this month. Come the end of the World Series it’ll be going from my package- farewell, its been fun, see you next April when MLB starts up again.

    ESPN America have failed badly on this one and its a big loss for them- the channel is going to be pretty bare over the winter. I can’t see Premier Sports were willing to pay massively more than they were. All we can hope is that its just a one year deal and that ESPN America are back next year.

    £8 for a few games a week- a lot of them delayed, no HNIC and no HD. No thanks. ESPN America was a good deal for £10 with HD included plus the bonus of some extra football and rugby. I’ve no interest in the other stuff on Premier Sports.

    The other benefit of ESPN America was that their subscriber management was done by Sky- so it was very easy to add or remove the channel. Premier Sports run their own subscriber management systems – just as Setanta did – hence the connection fee. Setanta were well known for being appalling for wrongly billing and just generally poor customer services. Premier Sports is Setanta Sports reborn under a different name because their brand was so badly damaged in the UK. Its effectively what Setanta was before they started chasing Premier League rights- a low(er) budget pay TV sports channel.

    On HNIC- when there was the falling out – two years ago I think – didn’t ESPN sign a multi year deal to take the coverage, because it was an extra they had to pay for on top of the NHL rights. In which case, it’ll be no HNIC on Premier Sports. At best you’d get the games with the away teams coverage (ie US local) coverage when available, or no Canadian match ups – thats what happened when there was no ESPN deal for HNIC.

    Seriously tempted by NHL Game Centre now- especially as I can watch on PS3.

    • paranoidpuck

      October 12, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      Well said. After I did some digging about what Premier Sports is, it certainly reminded me of Setanta.

      I think theres some similarities to when OLN landed in the States. You heard much the same from fans. I guess you have to decide if this is better than nothing. It’s possible that ESPN offered nothing so the NHL went the obscure route like they did many years ago in the US.
      I have heard that Premier uses revenue sharing for its sports which is what the NHL originally had with NBC so thats nothing new for the league. Sadly, we will probably never know what went on during the negotiations.

    • Muppetus Galacticus

      October 13, 2011 at 10:57 am

      Well to be fair, between Sat 15th and Sun 23rd they are showing twelve NHL games, seven of which are live, including all five games next weekend. So it’s not slim pickings if early indications are anything to go by. I can’t see an option for myself as the internet path is a no-go. I for one would watch peewee hockey in black and white if that was all there was, but I get that there are many who can live without the NHL for a while.

      Also, to touch on no Canadian match-ups. Jets @ Leafs is on next week.

  3. Christian Edinger

    October 12, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    I guess this means no ESPN coverage for the rest of Europe either? What a crying shame. I remained optimistic that a deal would eventually be reached. In vain, it turns out.

    The NHL should seriously explore the option of establishing its own dedicated cable channel in Europe.

    This whole mess of a situation is reflecting badly on Bettman & Co.

    Copenhagen, Denmark

    • JeffUK

      October 12, 2011 at 10:03 pm

      Christian- apparently ESPN are saying they’re still in talks for Europe, but have admitted thats it for the UK.

      ParanoidPuck- have to disagree. OLN might have been an obscure channel, but its levels of coverage (as I understand) were a step forward. Here we’re going from HD coverage with the vast majority of games live, to less games, poor SD quality with – given the other rights Premier Sports have – the majority delayed, no support programming.

      The disappointing thing is that apparently GCL doesn’t carry the HNIC intermissions. Thats almost a deal breaker for me, tempted as I am being able to watch any Leafs game I choose- and being able to access it on PS3 and iPhone as well as my laptop.

      • paranoidpuck

        October 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm

        I think my comparison to OLN is valid. OLN only aired two games per week while the high point of the ESPN deal had up to five games a week. OLN’s production values were quite brutal at the beginning. The presentation and studio were amateur. And while HD wasn’t mainstream yet at that time, OLN did not even offer an HD feed until well after the season began. That wasn’t the case with ESPN. Besides that, many carriers didn’t offer OLN. Even today, Versus still has that issue with it being stuck on high cable tiers.

        I don’t think the deal with Premier is perfect but I also never thought OLN would turn into a good partner for the league. People should be willing to at least give them a chance. A little short term pain might be worth it for the long run.

  4. JeffUK

    October 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Fair enough, I wasn’t as aware of the initial stages of the NHL on OLN. We’ll see what happens I guess. For me no HNIC and no HD are the real deal breakers.

  5. JP

    October 13, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Well I have to say I’m utterly appalled by this news. I have had a continual subscription to NASN / Setanta / ESPNA since late 2002. I remember clearly just how poor Setanta was and being overwhelmed when ESPN took over – what a huge difference in quality.

    Now by the sounds of it, we’re going to be going back to the old Setanta standard, but even worse with no HNIC!

    While this obviously means there’s no point in delaying to cancel ESPNA, I am as yet undecided as to whether I go with Premier or GCL. HNIC will be the decider – I know it’s not on GCL, but if it’s not going to be on Premier either then GCL will frankly be better.

    • paranoidpuck

      October 13, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      I understand the frustration about HNIC. Here in the states we got HNIC in HD every week when NHL Network first launched. Then they took away the late game and this season they are barely showing the early game. Now, you must have CI or GCL to see it every week and not every Center Ice carrier shows it and most don’t have it in HD.

  6. Scrivs

    October 14, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Does anyone know how I could receive hnic via satellite on my tv as my broadband isn’t very good am from the uk cheers

  7. Chloe

    October 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    ESPN have done a press relasse now saying that they will definitely not be doing NHL coverage in the UK.

    I was wondering if anyone knows of another way of watching the NHL in the UK? I know that they gave us paid access to NHL Gamcentre while a deal was being sorted out but has this now been cancelled or can we still watch via this? If anyone knows I would appreciate a reply.

    I agree that ESPN had great coverage, along with On The Fly and Hockey Night In Canada. I am with Virgin Media and have no plans to switch to Sky and even if it were added to Virgin, with no HD and the extra charges it seems like a really unattractive option to me.

    The only good thing I can think of is that in the long term I cannot imagine Premier Sports will get the viewers that ESPN did. The charges seem a lot, perhaps they will not get the viewers and therefore hope of hopes, it may go back to ESPN America next season?

    I have to say I am shocked and disappointed with how the whole situation has been handled and surprised as it seems the reason for the change in the first place was to increase the image of the NHL in Europe. All that it seems to have done is to uset and alienate the die-hard fans they alreay had. Thoroughly disappointed….

  8. JP

    October 16, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Chloe, as I understand it, Premier Sports are not on Virgin, so if you plan on seeing any NHL this season then GCL is realistically your only legitimate option. As far as I know it is available across Europe for a fee.

  9. tom

    October 16, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    well. i am keeping ESPN america……..MLB and college basketball are still awesome ! 🙂

  10. Christian Edinger

    October 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    According to the NHL GameCenter Live page the following restrictions apply:
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    Currently, NHL GameCenter LIVE™ is fully available throughout the U.S. and Canada with limited availability internationally (everywhere except Europe and the Middle East).

    Fans in Europe (except Italy and Russia) or the Middle East may watch live games with a subscription to ESPN Player. Go to: and choose the NHL Center Ice package to get live games on demand.
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    Mind you, in spite of the aforementioned reassurances, ESPN Player is currently not available in Europe either.

    Copenhagen, Denmark

    • paranoidpuck

      October 16, 2011 at 8:03 pm

      That’s the old FAQ. The NHL was supposed to update it. The league hasn’t exactly been quick to update or communicate with their fans on this issue.

      • Christian Edinger

        October 17, 2011 at 5:49 am


        Meaning that GameCenter Live is indeed open for subscription in Europe?

        Copenhagen, Denmark

      • paranoidpuck

        October 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm

        It is in most countries. For whatever reason, Scandinavia appears to still be blocked.

  11. Andy

    October 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I thought the NHL said that they wanted to bring hockey to a wider range of people in Europe.
    So why would the rights go to some Sky only channel?
    Anyone smell backhanders?!!


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