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For sports fans, Monday night is no longer all about football.

Rogers Communications Inc. RCI-B-T has sold exclusive rights to broadcast Monday’s National Hockey League games on Inc.’s AMZN-Q Prime Video service over the next two seasons, starting in October, 2024. The deal will see Rogers, owner of TV broadcaster Sportsnet, attempt to broaden its audience by partnering with a leading streaming platform.

The NHL’s first streaming agreement will see 26 regular season games move from a traditional TV broadcaster to Prime. Colette Watson, president of Rogers’ sports and media division, said in a press release: “Today’s content ecosystem is evolving, and we’re really pleased to work with Amazon to continue to grow the game and help hockey fans watch games when and where they want.”

In 1970, the National Football League revolutionized sports broadcasting by introducing Monday Night Football, drawing a massive audience – and advertisers – to games traditionally played on Sunday. In an interview, Rogers chief executive officer Tony Staffieri said striking a partnership with Amazon is part of a strategy to win the loyalty of a new generation of sports fans with programing that is “platform agnostic.”

In 2013, Rogers struck a 12-year, $5.2-billion broadcast deal with the NHL – it expires after the 2025-2026 season. At the time, analysts said the company may have overpaid to wrest hockey broadcasts away from rival BCE Inc. Mr. Staffieri said sports programming – the company also owns Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays and their broadcasting rights – is boosting Rogers’ brand and revenues.

“Our NHL agreement has been enormously successful for Rogers,” said Mr. Staffieri. He said the company plans to bid again for NHL broadcast rights when the agreement comes up for renewal. After selling Monday night games to Amazon, Sportsnet will still broadcast more than 500 NHL games each year.

Rogers and Amazon declined to comment on how much Prime is paying for the rights to Monday night hockey.

Toronto-based Rogers announced the streaming deal on Thursday, a day after unveiling a 10-year agreement with U.S. telecom giant Comcast Corp. aimed at providing Canadian customers with devices and technology meant to simplify home viewing. The new services, marketed under the Xfinity brand, will be rolled out later this year. Mr. Staffieri said the Comcast technology will allow sports fans easy access to games, on any platform.

Sports is the bright spot at what is otherwise a slow-growing media business at Rogers, which also owns broadcaster Citytv and a stable of more than 50 radio stations. Rogers’ media revenues rose 3 per cent last year, to $2.3-billion, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased 12 per cent to $77-million.

Canadian TV ratings for Saturday night hockey were up 8 per cent this year, to an average of 1.27 million viewers per game, according to data service Nielsen. With four Canadian teams vying for the Stanley Cup, ratings for the first weekend of the playoffs soared, up 11 per cent versus the previous season to an average audience of 2.62 million viewers per game across North America.

Amazon will build its own broadcast team for Monday night hockey, unveiling its play-by-play crew and analysts later this year. Magda Grace, head of Prime Video in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, said: “We’re committed to driving more innovation for fans as we bring the NHL into more Canadian homes and across more devices.”

The Seattle-based tech company has steadily built its relationship with the NHL and Rogers over the past three years. In 2021, it began providing in-game analytics during broadcasts of all NHL games. Last October Amazon put Sportsnet on Prime’s platform for Canadian subscribers, its first partnership with a domestic sports network.

When Amazon won the right to broadcast the NFL’s Thursday night football in 2021 – for a reported US$1-billion annually – it hired a 10-member on-air crew anchored by eight-time Emmy-award winning announcer Al Michaels, along with four former players and an ex-referee as commentators. The launch made Mr. Michaels one of the highest paid broadcasters on TV, with a US$15-million salary.

The NHL positioned the move to stream Monday night hockey on Amazon as a way to win more fans for a league buoyed by an increase in U.S. TV ratings this season. “We are thrilled to collaborate with Amazon and Rogers on this project,” said David Proper, NHL senior executive vice president, in a press release. “We are committed to serving hockey fans and reaching new audiences.”

TV ratings for NHL regular season games on U.S. networks ESPN and ABC – owned by Walt Disney Co. – and TNT, a division of Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. – were up 8 per cent this year, to an average of 504,000 viewers per game, according to Nielsen.

Rogers’ partnership with Amazon comes as the future ownership of the country’s most valuable sports property is in flux.

In 2011, Rogers and BCE acquired a control stake in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., parent to Toronto’s major league hockey, basketball, soccer and football teams. At the time, the two companies negotiated the right to purchase entrepreneur and MLSE chair Larry Tanenbaum’s 25 per cent interest in the company in July, 2026.

Earlier this year, Mr. Tanenbaum sold a stake in a family holding company containing his sports investments to the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System pension plan, a deal that valued MLSE at approximately $8-billion.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that TNT is owned by Disney. It is a division of Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. This version has been updated.

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