The National Hockey League and NBC/Versus have agreed on a long term TV deal that will prove very lucrative for the NHL and NBC.

The 10 year deal will pay the NHL reportedly (according to Darren Dreger) $200 million per year – a figure much improved by the $80 million the NHL currently receives.

This deal is great for both sides as it allows the NHL to have a broadcast home that has done an good job of promoting and broadcasting hockey at a national level.

NBC gets a lot of criticism for their somewhat homer-ish coverage of certain teams, annoying announcers (Pierre McGuire being chief among them), and awkward camera angles and such.

Despite those flaws, NBC and Versus have given hockey prime time coverage for hockey games and have helped grow the game in popularity with the rivalry games between Pittsburgh and Washington/Philadelphia, Boston and Montreal, Chicago and Detroit, and Nashville and Columbus (ok the last one was a joke – the NHL needs to try to expand the fanbases of smaller market teams by getting them more national coverage).

And as the large increase in TV revenue shows, the sport is growing. The NHL could be the only sport on TV come fall with the futures of the NFL and NBA in question.

There may not even be an NFL or NBA season which could be just what the NHL needs to shed the image of being a minor league sport compared to the big 3.

NBC and especially Versus could make out like bandits if the NFL and NBA seasons are canceled – and ESPN could lose a ton of money.

ESPN has greatly ignored the NHL since the lockout and has prospered showing highlights of dunk after dunk or debating the backup offensive lineman of the Detroit Lions.

How this affects the Penguins
The Penguins greatly benefit from this TV deal. How?

The NHL salary cap is now rumored to increase by anywhere from $2.5-4 million next season. That could be huge for the Penguins in their quest to upgrade their offensive skill outside Crosby/Malkin.

The Penguins will now see even more primetime coverage – especially if there are no NFL/NBA games. Sunday night football on NBC could turn into Hockey Night in America.

Penguins TV Tops in USA
For the fourth straight season, the Penguins are tops in the NHL among USA markets in viewership.

Pittsburgh loves their Penguins to a tune of an 8.68 rating and 101,000 households per game despite being the NHL’s 22nd largest market.

The Pittsburgh ratings have doubled in the playoffs and their website remains the most visited site in the NHL.

In comparison, the Florida Panthers have a 0.16 rating and average 3,000 households per game.