WorldLink, NHL In Ad Deal

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The National Hockey League has tapped WorldLink to oversee all direct-response spot and longform ad sales for its fledgling NHL Network.

WorldLink will work with ad agencies to bring direct-response advertisers and infomercials to the hockey network, which launched last October.

"Our real goal is just to enhance the areas that don't have programming commitments, to help them fill out their schedule and create revenue streams for them," says WorldLink CEO Toni Knight.

The NHL Network has deals with both satellite carriers as well as cable operators including Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications, Charter and Time Warner Cable, though it is often found on the less-viewed digital sports tiers.

"Any new property just takes some time to build an audience base, but the NHL is a premium brand, and they have a loyal fan base," says Knight. "And over time, it will continue to grow as they pick up distribution."

WorldLink represents nearly 50 sports networks worldwide, including Fox Sports Net, the Big Ten Network, NBA TV, CSTV, GolTV and Fuel.

Comcast's cable sports network Versus also last week exercised an option to continue as the NHL's exclusive cable carrier through 2011. Speculation remains as to whether the NHL will find a way to bring former cable partner ESPN back into the fold as well. NBC is the league's broadcast network partner.