HBO pulling plug on 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic series
Is it really the NHL Winter Classic without HBO's 24/7 series?
We're about to find out. The popular program, which since 2011 has charted the effort, obstacles and profanity that lead up to the league's signature regular-season event, won't follow the Capitals and Blackhawks this season as they prepare for their New Year's Day showdown.
According to the report, the two sides were unable to come to terms on an agreement, leading the pay cabler to pull the plug.
“Everybody at HBO enjoyed working with the NHL and its teams on 24/7 the past four years,” Kevin Flaherty of HBO told Sportsnet. “There was never an expectation that HBO would chronicle the lead-up to the Winter Classic every year. So we will not be involved with the NHL this season.
“We wish the NHL the very best and the door will always remain open.”
Reading between those cordial lines, it's likely that ties were severed over the stack of dollars that were being paid out to the league.
Was the NHL feeling bigger in the britches after reeling in its massive Canadian TV deal with Rogers Communications earlier this year? Possibly. The league has yet to respond to a request for comment, but it seems plausible that it overplayed its hand. If that's the way it went down, it would be a critical error. The show has become one of the hallmark achievements of the the post-lockout landscape and the league clearly needed the prestige and exposure more than HBO needs NHL-branded programming.
The league does have options, though. It produced the NHL Revealed series in conjunction with last year's Stadium Series games, so a self-produced behind-the-scenes show for broadcast on NBC Sports Network or NHL Network is a possibility.
NHL spokesman confirms via email no HBO 24/7 partnership, says league will announce "our new partner and plans on 9/23 at Nationals Park."— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) September 11, 2014