I think you're going to see a ton of sports properties (other than the NFL, which is helped by the fantasy football and gambling aspect) take a huge hit during the next round of rights fee negotiations.
-NBC has had the US free-to-air rights since the lockout ended (consistency).
-NBC also has the Olympic rights (cross-promotion...synergy) locked up through 2014.
-Only viable free-to-air option (if ESPN were to acquire rights there would be no free-to-air hockey in America). A perusal of the other free-to-air networks...CBS is larded with the PGA Tour and US college basketball, FOX with NASCAR and baseball, and ABC with both college and NBA basketball. FOX and CBS have long-term deals with their properties.
-No upfront revenues.
-Schedule is rigidly defined and limited to a limited number of teams.
-NBC, despite not paying upfront, seems to have a significant influence on scheduling.
-Due to the nature of the deal NBC is making broadcast decisions on ratings and ad potential above all (NBC is owned by General Electric, for what it's worth).
I know that a lot of the American regulars carp about NBC's work. It's not CBC, but it's not that horrible. They've had a couple high-profile screw-ups (the 2007 ECF cutaway to show a horse racing prerace show), and lord knows that the NBC broadcast team isn't in favour in this forum. But what of the alternative (no free-to-air broadcasts)?
To that point, it's instructive to note that one of Bettman's accomplishments (the anti-Bettman, pro-ESPN, anti-Versus people are going to hate me for sure) is getting the NHL on American free to air television (actual regular season, playoff, and Stanley Cup Final games). Factor in how many American households do not have cable, and as they say....there's your answer.
In short...not the greatest deal, but doubtful the league was going to find a better one.