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Josh Fenton

COLLEGE HOCKEY: NCHC commish working on TV contract

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sports Grand Forks, 58203
Grand Forks Herald
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Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

The biggest complaint about UND’s new hockey league, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, was the television deal, which barred the league’s teams from appearing on national networks outside of CBS Sports.

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Commissioner Josh Fenton is on his way to changing that.

Fenton has been in contact with officials at CBS Sports this summer and multiple sources tell the Herald that CBS appears willing to alter, in some way, the exclusivity clause in the network's contract with the NCHC.

That could open up the door for UND to put some home games back on Fox College Sports as it did in previous years. The original CBS contract barred that.

The games will still appear on Midco Sports Network locally and regionally and CBS will still serve as the league’s official network, broadcasting both regular-season games and its postseason tournament, the NCHC Frozen Faceoff.

CBS Sports showed 18 NCHC games last season, beginning with the league’s first-ever game in October and ending with the league’s championship game in March. The broadcasts, anchored by play-by-play man Ben Holden, color commentator Dave Starman and rinkside reporter Shireen Saski, received high praise from fans all season.

But the nights that CBS didn’t broadcast games became a point of contention for fans outside of the region, who were accustomed to seeing all UND home games on DirecTV and Fox College Sports.

When asked about the TV situation for this upcoming season, Fenton told the Herald: “We’re still working on plans for next season.”

The TV situation was discussed with league members and CBS officials at the annual college hockey meetings in Florida in April. A source told the Herald that it was of particular concern for UND athletic director Brian Faison.

The league also is exploring the possibility of a streaming package through the NCHC’s website, where fans could see league-wide games. But the league has to work through road blocks — including pre-existing streaming contracts by each individual school — to make that happen.

It could be another month before finalized TV plans are announced for the upcoming season.

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Brad Elliott Schlossman
Schlossman is in his 11th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2014, he was named one of the top three beat writers in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.
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