|Launched||October 1, 2007|
|Owned by||National Hockey League (84.4%)
|Picture format||720p (HDTV)
|Slogan||Where the NHL Gets Hockey|
|Broadcast area||United States
|Headquarters||Secaucus, New Jersey, United States|
|Dish Network||157 (HD/SD)|
|DishHD (Taiwan)||6365 (HD)|
|Time Warner Cable||312|
|Verizon FiOS||587 (HD)
|Available on most other U.S. cable systems||Consult your local cable provider for channel availability|
NHL Network is an American sports-oriented cable and satellite television network that is a joint venture between the National Hockey League (which owns a controlling 84.4% interest) and NBCUniversal (which owns the remaining 15.6%). Dedicated to ice hockey, the network features live game telecasts from the NHL and other professional and collegiate hockey leagues, as well as NHL-related content including analysis programs, specials and documentaries.
The channel's headquarters and studios are located in the Secaucus, New Jersey facilities also utilized by MLB Network.
Launched on October 1, 2007, the NHL Network was developed out of a joint venture between the NHL and cable provider Comcast, as part of a broadcast rights agreement that resulted in the NBC Sports Network (then known as Outdoor Life Network) acquiring partial cable television rights to regular season, and Stanley Cup playoff and finals games from the National Hockey League.
The NHL Network originally shared some programming with its former sister network in Canada, with the main differences in programming between the two networks being the carriage of domestically targeted commercials and live game telecasts; NHL Network in the U.S. primarily carries broadcasts from Canadian national rightsholders (such as CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet, and formerly TSN), while the Canadian feed primarily carried games from U.S. broadcasters. The channel also picks up simulcasts of games from regional rightsholders; live games on NHL Network that involve U.S. teams are non-exclusive, and are blacked out in the markets of U.S. teams involved in favor of local broadcasters.
The league hired Ascent Media to manage and distribute the channel, through its publicly traded subsidiary, Ascent Media Network Services. When it launched, the NHL Network became the third sports-oriented cable network devoted to programming from and controlled by a major sports league, following the National Basketball Association-owned NBA TV (which launched in March 1999) and the National Football League-owned NFL Network (which launched in November 2003); Major League Baseball would launch its own sports channel, MLB Network, on January 1, 2009.
On June 1, 2015, The Globe and Mail columnist David Shoalts reported that NHL Network in Canada would cease operations on September 1, 2015; national media rights to the NHL in Canada had been acquired by Rogers Communications beginning in the 2014-15 season, and the Bell Media staff members who managed the network's Canadian arm on behalf of the NHL were laid off that July.
In August 2015, it was announced that the NHL had reached a six-year deal with Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) to take over the management of the NHL's digital properties, as well as NHL Network. Operations and production of NHL Network's programming was shifted from Toronto to the Secaucus, New Jersey facilities of MLB Network. There has been minor talent sharing between the networks, and MLB Network also helped to cross-promote an NHL Stadium Series game at Coors Field by building a scale hockey rink in its Studio 42, which itself is designed to resemble a scaled baseball field. For much of the 2015-16 season, NHL Network studio programming originated from re-themed versions of MLB Network's existing sets (much of the NHL regular season falls during the MLB offseason). In April 2016, coinciding with the start of the playoffs, NHL Network introduced a dedicated, 1,200 square-foot arena-themed set.
Comcast, owners of the league's current cable partner NBCSN, is also the largest cable television provider in the United States. The company was contractually obligated to carry NHL Network on its systems by the summer of 2007 at the latest, so it would be available in time for the 2007-08 NHL season. Both Comcast and the NHL had an option to terminate their contract after the 2006-07 season, which would have voided Comcast's obligation to launch a U.S. version of NHL Network, but opted to proceed with the launch.
Since its official launch in the United States, the NHL Network announced on October 8, 2007 that it would begin being carried that month on Cablevision, Charter, Cox Communications, DirecTV, Dish Network, Xfinity and Time Warner Cable through carriage agreements that were struck with each of the providers. DirecTV has aired NHL Network on channel 215 since October 31, 2007. Going forward, any provider that already carries NHL Center Ice was expected to begin carrying NHL Network on one of its programming tiers. Some providers offer NHL Network's high definition simulcast feed, which broadcasts all live games in HD.
NHL.com announced on January 12, 2009 that AT&T U-verse would begin carrying the channel. This was followed on June 2, 2009 with the announcement that NHL Network and Comcast had reached an agreement to carry the channel on the provider's Digital Classic Tier, which increased subscribership of the channel from the then-estimated two million subscribers in its placement on the "Sports Entertainment" tier to over 10 million on its Digital Classic package. Internationally, the network began to be distributed in Taiwan in 2010 on satellite provider DishHD.
On October 1, 2011, AT&T U-verse dropped NHL Network due to a carriage dispute over a planned increase in retransmission payments. On November 18, 2016, the NHL Network returned to AT&T U-verse following a five-year hiatus.