AIHL Cement Fox Sports Deal

Feb 19, 2013 - Early Tuesday morning, the AIHL released a statement to the press outlining a deal that had been struck with Fox Sports that would mark one of the largest steps forward by the league in its short history.

The Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) striking a deal with a television network has been on the forefront of the minds of most hockey fans in Australia for the last 5 years and now that dream has become a realisation.

Much like the Australian Baseball League (ABL) with their very successful weekly condensed game that was aired on Fox Sports throughout the baseball season, the AIHL have struck a similar deal that will showcase the country’s premier ice hockey league.

Made in the off-season the deal will see Fox Sports broadcast a 60 minute game of the week to a national audience that will immediately follow NHL games.

Running from April 25 through to September this is a massive leap forward with AIHL Commissioner Robert Bannerman confirming this in the press release.

“It will showcase our star players and the fast, hard-hitting action of Australian ice hockey to more than 2.3 million households.”

Not only will the program feature a game of the week but also news and highlights from around the league and state associations.

The Newcastle North Stars have also released a statement in regards to the deal and have announced that ATC Productions will be providing the footage and production to Fox Sports.

ATC Manager James Morgan told northstars.com.au that they were “looking forward to helping the league get plenty of exposure.”

With the deal stretching from April 25 through to September, AIHL Deputy Commissioner Alex Lata told HSN that although it would be too early to think about contract extensions, the AIHL is concentrating on producing a quality product.

“At this moment we are focused solely on producing the best possible content and exposure for our sport, our fans, and our commercial partners. It is a bit too early to think about extensions.”

While the deal is very similar to that of the ABL, Lata explained that although the ABL had the Championship Series televised live, nothing had been agreed upon yet in regards to the AIHL.

“We are currently discussing this opportunity with FOX SPORTS. No agreement has been reached yet.”

For as long as the discussion of an AIHL television deal has existed there has been speculation regarding the suitability of AIHL venues for the medium.  Ms Lata addressed this also.

“As noted above our focus is to draw attention to the best aspects of our sport. We are committed to showcasing the flagship ice hockey league in Australia; the best teams, the best players, and the best venues. Teams that perform better will earn more coverage. Naturally, this means some rinks will gain more exposure. “

Although the AIHL was not prepared to discuss the financials of the deal Assistant Commissioner Lata remained positive that the venture would be a success for all parties.

“We’re focused on our strategic objectives. This partnership with FOX SPORTS will be a key driver of awareness for both the AIHL and ice hockey in Australia.”

Source: Andrew Hewitt

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