With the recent settlement of a class-action antitrust lawsuit targeting the NHL's TV blackout policy , hockey fans will be able to see their favorite team play on the road without being forced to subscribe to a league-wide content package.
As part of the settlement, whose details were announced Thursday, the NHL will offer a Game Center Live internet package that enables fans to buy single-team packages for at least 20 percent less than the cost of bundled packages. The new package will be available for the next five seasons, and in addition, the league is discounting "early bird" renewal and full season prices by an additional 17.25 percent next season and will pay $6.5 million to attorneys for the plaintiffs to cover legal fees and costs.
The NHL team defendants involved in the lawsuit included the Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals. They agreed that, along with broadcasters Comcast Corp., DirecTV and Madison Square Garden Co., the league used blackouts to limit out-of-market game broadcasts.
Thursday's settlement requires approval by a U.S. District court judge in Manhattan before being finalized. Howard Langer, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in legal documents it marked the first time any U.S. major-league sport has permitted consumers to choose between purchasing a league-wide, season-long broadcast package or only watching their favorite teams.