OLN Strikes Deal with Yahoo! to Bring Selected Sports Programming to the Web

Earlier this week I asked why the National Hockey League has not followed the NBA into Internet distribution of game-related video content? That same day OLN announced a deal with Yahoo! to distribute a fairly large selection of its major sporting events via the Yahoo! Sports website. I heard about this from an article on Frank Steele's Tour de France Weblog that mainly focused on the pro cycling aspects of the announcement.

I think this is a good deal for OLN because their channel is not available on every cable television system in America, and some of the subscribers to those systems are interested in OLN's unique programming. This is also a win for pro cycling, which is much better off with distribution through Yahoo! than if they are only available through pay sites catering to rabid cycling fans such as Cycling.tv.

This is a step forward for the NHL, but it's not the aggressive move that I hoped for. This deal was struck by its U.S. broadcast partner (OLN), not the NHL itself. What the NHL should have done, in my opinion, was made the deal with Yahoo! itself or launched its own Internet-oriented content service. Once they did that, the NHL could have given OLN and the CBC the right to brand certain programs within their Internet package. The NBA did this with TNT Overtime.

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