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NBCSN to Shut Down at End of Year, With Premier League and NHL Moving to USA Network

Jason Gurwin

NBC Sports Network is coming to an end. The channel which is best known for live coverage of NHL, Premier League, Tour de France, and NASCAR – is being shut down. Most programming on NBCSN, will shift over to USA Network and Peacock later this year.

The channel has gone through many name changes since its founding in 1995. When Comcast acquired NBC in 2011, it was rebranded to NBCSN from Versus. Before that, it had been known as OLN (Outdoor Life Network) before becoming Versus in 2006.

In 2011, NBC Sports reached a ten-year extension to their National Hockey League TV contract, which expires after this season. Their current deal with the Premier League ends after the 2021-22 campaign. If the network was to re-up their deals, that programing would move to USA.

In a memo to staff, NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua said (full memo below):

“Commencing later this year, USA Network will begin carrying and/or simulcasting certain NBC Sports programming, including NHL Stanley Cup Playoff games and NASCAR races, as part of a larger transition within the Company.

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, with key elements of NBCSN’s programming moving to USA Network and, in some cases, Peacock for 2022 and beyond.”

It is not a surprise that NBCU would move their sports content to another channel. Outside of live games, there isn’t much other high-profile content on the network. The station airs a selection college football and hockey games, and some shoulder programming around the NHL, NFL, and Premier League.

The Dan Patrick Show used to air daily on the channel, but moved to Peacock in 2020.

By moving live sports to USA Network, it makes the channel more valuable with a combination of scripted, reality, and sports. This is similar to the approach that WarnerMedia has with TNT (NBA) and TBS (MLB).

Full Memo to Staff from NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua

We’re all aware of how quickly the media landscape is evolving, and our Company is taking thoughtful steps to stay ahead of these trends wherever possible and, in many instances, help set them.

As evidence of our strong commitment to live sports programming, we recently transitioned all of GOLF Channel’s linear studio productions to Stamford, and we’re producing multiple new programs for Peacock and other platforms in Stamford as well. In addition, we’re doing more in partnership with our colleagues at Telemundo and Sky Sports.

Commencing later this year, USA Network will begin carrying and/or simulcasting certain NBC Sports programming, including NHL Stanley Cup Playoff games and NASCAR races, as part of a larger transition within the Company. 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, with key elements of NBCSN’s programming moving to USA Network and, in some cases, Peacock for 2022 and beyond.

This will make USA Network an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace, and gives our sports programming a significant audience boost. We believe that the power of this offering is the best long-term strategy for our Sports Group, our partners, and our Company.

This transition, combined with our robust portfolio of assets, including GOLF Channel, The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, RSNs, SportsEngine, GolfNow, digital, audio, sports betting and gaming, puts us in an even stronger position as leaders in the sports media space and to continue to grow our business.

We will keep you informed as the broader plan develops, and please join me for a virtual meeting on Tuesday afternoon, January 26 to answer your questions. A meeting invitation will follow shortly.

Thank you for everything you’re doing on behalf of NBC Sports Group.

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