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  • What the NHL's Blackout Rules Settlement Means for Hockey Fans


    On Friday the National Hockey League (NHL) and broadcasters reached a settlement agreement on blackout rules for subscribers to the NHL Game Center Live Package. The revisions to NHL Game Center Live will allow for purchasing a single-team internet package for a reduced rate of $105 per season for the next five seasons whereas previously the only option was a league-wide pass featuring all 30 NHL teams at $159 a season. Game Center customers felt paying the price to watch every team in the league when they were only buying to watch one team was unfair and now a little justice has been served in that department. It isn't all sunshine and rainbows, however, as the notorious blackout rule that restricts viewers from watching their hometown team in-market on the package will stay, despite the legality of the rule being strongly questioned.

    The silver lining in all this settlement deal is that U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin did concede that the blackout regulations are likely an anti-trust violation. While it isn't a concrete ruling, that admission could be a crucial building block for potential cases moving forward. The settlement marks a small battle won in what is sure to be a long war for sports fans. The proposed settlement deal is by no means a knockout punch for fans fighting what they believe is an illegal monopoly, but the win could turnout to be a landmark case in future lawsuits like the ongoing MLB TV dispute. One can only hope that the blackout rule will also be eliminated in due time.

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