Back in June, we reported on a class-action lawsuit taken up by hockey fans against the NHL and a collection of its local broadcasters -- like Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia or MSG in New York.
You can get the full rundown on things here, but to sum things up as simply as possible, the league has agreed to provide a cheaper version of NHL GameCenter Live to fans who only want to pay for games for one specific team. You no longer have to buy a package that includes every game. You can by a Flyers-only package, or a Sharks-only package.
That new, single-team package will cost 20 percent off the price of the full version of NHL GameCenter Live, which will be 17.25 percent cheaper in 2015-16 than it was last year. So to do the math real fast ... GCL cost $159 last year. 17.25 percent off of that means it will cost $132 this year, and 20 percent off that means the single-team package will cost $105.
(Side note: the NHL will make the single-team package available on NHL Center Ice via your cable/satellite subscription, but this settlement does not require Comcast or DirecTV to supply it to customers. So that's still a question mark.)
That's good news, right? If you're an out-of-market Flyers fan, you can watch games for a decent bit of savings against what you would have had to pay last year.
But our argument is that it's really not that equitable.
Blackouts still apply with these packages the same as they would otherwise. (So don't even consider this new package if you're in the Philadelphia market, because you won't be able to watch a single Flyers game.) For out-of-market Flyers fans, that means that if the game is on NBC, you can't watch it through the package you paid $105 for. You'll need a cable or satellite subscription that includes NBC and NBC Sports Network if you want to watch every game.
But as we know, not all teams are on national television at the same rate. The Flyers are on national television a whopping 18 times next season. A team like the Arizona Coyotes or Florida Panthers are on national TV just once each. Yet the single-team package costs $105 regardless of which team you're getting it for, meaning Flyers fans are getting less for their dollar than fans of other teams.
Here's the team by team breakdown of this. It's not equal throughout the league. (These numbers don't include NHL Network games because the NHL Network schedule has yet to be announced.)
|Team||Games on NBC or NBCSN||Games Available on GCL||Cost per Game on GCL|
If the NHL wanted to offer a fair package for all fans, they should adjust the price accordingly based how blackouts affect each team. If the rate is $105 is what they're charging for 82 games, they should adjust that price for fans of teams that will get fewer games with their package. So if you only get 81 games with your team's package, you should pay the appropriate price based on that per game rate.
Here's how that would break down:
|Team||Games Available on GCL||Current Cost||What It Should Cost|
|Philadelphia + Pittsburgh||64||$105.00||$81.95|
|Boston, St. Louis, Minnesota, Colorado||70||$105.00||$89.63|
|Washington, San Jose||71||$105.00||$90.91|
|N.Y. Islanders, Buffalo||77||$105.00||$98.60|
|CAR, CBJ, NJD, TOR, FLA, ARZ, EDM||81||$105.00||$103.72|
|Ottawa, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary||82||$105.00||$105.00|
We probably shouldn't hold our breath, though.