The NBC Sports Network, once touted as a potential challenger to ESPN, is shutting down at the end of year.
NBC Sports Network has mostly made a name for itself via the NHL and English Premier League soccer. Now, it’s going to make a name for itself by becoming the first major sports network to announce it is going away.
“At the conclusion of 2021, we have decided that the best strategic next step for our Sports Group and the entire Company is to wind down NBCSN completely,” NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua said in a memo to staff on Friday, via The Associated Press.
NBC Sports Network was founded by Comcast in 1995 and was called Outdoor Life Network at the time. It acquired the NHL in 2005, changing its name to Versus in 2006. Comcast then bought NBC Universal in 2011 and again changed the name to what we know the network as today.
In the memo, Bevacqua said that NHL playoff games and NASCAR races would be move to USA Network sometime in 2021. USA Network has been airing a handful of first-round NHL playoff games since 2012.
“This will make USA Network an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace, and gives our sports programming a significant audience boost,” Bevacqua said. “We believe that the power of this offering is the best long-term strategy for our Sports Group, our partners, and our Company.”
NBC’s current deal with the NHL averages $200 million per season, per the AP.
“NBCSN is available in 80.1 million homes, according to Nielsen’s latest estimate, which is less than ESPN (83.1 million) and FS1 (80.2 million),” the AP reported.