NBC Sports Network ‘To Wind Down Completely’

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.

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and NBA.com, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side, FortyEightMinutes.com.


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    • Nittany: You may be right about local sports channels. Sinclair, which now owns the local Fox Sports channels, is in no rush to settle with Dish and others; they have been dark on Dish for nearly 18 months. However, I do envision much hockey and auto racing eventually moving to Peacock.

  1. USA NETWORK is known as a channel for movies, off chute TV series, and old classic reruns. Like I said TV sports is dying an ugly death. Instead of paying reasonable rates for sports packages the outbid themselves. If it was profitable Sports would be on the big network 4 or 5 days a week. COLIN K. , LeBron and many others mixed politics with sports and it has been a downward spiral ever since

  2. Clay is right, streaming is “clunky” at best. I like seeing every viewing opportunity in a seamless guide based system. But that’s likely not the way it will be in the future. The future driven by this model will be even more destructive for sports viewership.

    • Tour is one month a year and only in the mornings due to time difference. Not unreasonable to assume it would continue that model on USA or CNBC. That being said, pending what their viewership is, would not be surprised if it was Peacock exclusive.

  3. Fact of the matter is that there are too many channels and not enough quality sports content to go around for national broadcasts. Properties like the NBA, NHL and MLB are better suited to local outlets unless it’s a playoff. Nobody in Dallas cares about a regular season matchup between the Montreal Canadiens and the Minnesota Wild or whatever. Years ago, these properties were handled by local TV stations. Even the NFL with its local broadcast rules caters to the local market. Only things like college football and men’s basketball with their defuse national fan bases can really support large numbers of national broadcasts. Even then, there are not enough quality matchups on a regular basis to support the umpteen channels trying to broadcast it.

    I expect to see more attrition and consolidation.

  4. So what happens to Premier League soccer? My guess is that they will put it on the Peacock pay stream, like ESPN did when they moved all soccer to ESPN+.

    People who want to grow that sport should realize that you don’t grow it by putting all the games behind a paywall – look at the NFL.

    • Nobody cares about Premier League soccer. That’s part of the reason NBC Sports is going belly up. In the U.S. we pretend to care about soccer for a few weeks once every four years. You could put Premier League soccer on in every airport in the Country, like they do with CNN, and people still wouldn’t watch, just like CNN.

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