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article imageHBO dumps National Hockey League series 24/7

By Rocco Pendola     Sep 11, 2014 in Sports
According to well-placed sources at Home Box Office (HBO), it can be confirmed the network has decided not to renew its deal to broadcast the 24/7 series that follows participants during the run up to the Winter Classic.
Greg Brady of the Fan 590 first reported the news via his Twitter account. Upon hearing the story I contacted my sources at HBO.
It's interesting to note that a very high-level source at HBO had to check with others at the company to confirm the news (which may or may not speak to where the NHL ranks in terms of priorities), which, after a couple of emails, produced the following statement from HBO:
Everybody at HBO enjoyed working with the NHL and its teams on 24/7 the past four years.
It was an exciting endeavor and we’re very proud of the never-before-seen presentation of the world of hockey that 24/7 was able to capture.
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.
This leaves the obvious question -- where will 24/7 end up, if anywhere at all? In the United States, it might make sense for the NHL to attempt to place the series on NBC Sports Network or NHL Network. Both entities broadcast games throughout the season and are go-to channels for hockey fans.
That said, given the nature of the program, it would not shock me if the NHL and ESPN have conversations. While American fans often chide ESPN for its perceived lack of hockey coverage (the network does not carry NHL games and hasn't since 2004), the documentary style of 24/7 could, in the spirit of programs such as Outside the Lines and 30 for 30, suit ESPN. And, based on unscientific looks at Twitter activity during 24/7 each of the past two seasons, it's not crazy to argue that the program appealed to viewers who would not necessarily classify themselves as hockey fans. So it's not like ESPN would be catering to as small of a niche as the standard NHL regular season game tends to draw in the States.
A not-so-wildcard to consider: Netflix. The streaming media company operates in both the US and Canada. And it doubles in the role of playing fierce competitor/inferior little brother to HBO. It would fit Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' style to pick up the scraps HBO leaves. I can state for certain that, over the years, Netflix has expressed a desire to license HBO programming only to have HBO management reject such overtures.
More about HBO, Home box office, NHL, National hockey league, Winter classic
 
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