NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says the league is projecting record revenue this season.
Bettman at his annual state of the league address before the Stanley Cup Final estimated revenue will surpass $5.2 billion. The league generated $4.6 billion in the last normal full season in 2018-19. Bettman cited a significant uptick in scoring leading to high ratings and more interest in the game.
The increase also stems from new U.S. media rights deals with ESPN and Turner Sports that went into effect this season.
“We were able to stabilize the business and power through,” Bettman said. “Didn’t mean that at times there weren’t challenges, didn’t mean at times we didn’t have to adjust. Some of you on occasion said we were making it up as we went along, and we were, but we did what we had to do to get through it.”
“Everything we do, particularly around the game, and from a business standpoint, is only important to the extent that the game is healthy on the ice, and the game is healthy on the ice,” Bettman said. “The younger stars, our competitive balance is unmatched by any of the other major leagues, and it gives us incredible races in the regular season and it gives us playoffs that are as unpredictable as anything you can say.”
The financial increase appears to also stem from new U.S. media rights deals with ESPN and Turner Sports that went into effect this season. As the Associated Press reported, the salary cap is projected to go up $1 million to $82.5 million next season, though bigger bumps are likely in the following years after players finish paying off a substantial debt to owners accrued over the past couple of years to balance hockey-related revenue 50/50.