Important Disclosure: I was born in Montreal, Canada, home of the greatest NHL team of all time as well as the baseball team “that got away” – and yes, I’m bitter.
Sling Media and the NHL just announced (although my friend Om seems to have gotten a bit of an earlier scoop than old JT) that they are working together to enable NHL content within the forthcoming Clip+Sling technology (more from SlingCommunity, refresher details here, beta signup here – don’t know if they are still taking, but it can’t hurt to sign up!). Now if this were any decade prior to the 90s, I would probably insert nice gloating comments about how much I would use this to show my Habs trouncing their opponents, but, uhm, they, er, kinda, sorta missed the playoffs this year.
Now granted, NHL’s TV licensing business isn’t quite the same as MLB’s. Furthermore, this deal isn’t about to change the bottom line for the organization during the 2007-08 season. But that’s not the point: it’s that they are working with Sling to see what the future holds, not working against them to see how lovely the fresh air was back in the 1970s. MLB can’t act like the music industry when it comes to Internet distribution, they must make deals with tech companies, experiment, and look to increased revenue through innovation, not lawsuits (refresher on this one here).
While Bettman’s antics over the past 15 years haven’t done much to bring the NHL out of 4th place when it comes to professional sports in the US, he’s certainly enabled his organization to test the waters when it comes to new technology. It’s not quite enough to excuse him for moving teams to North Carolina and Florida (two of em, in fact), but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Disclosure: I’m a former Sling Media employee, but I think the hockey/Canadian disclosure was more important.