The NHL’s and the English Premier League’s broadcaster in the United States, the NBC Sports Network, will be leaving the airwaves at the end of the year.
NBC Sports President Pete Bevacqua announced the channel’s shutdown on Friday in an internal memo to staff.
“We decided that the best strategic next step for our sports group and the whole company was to shut down NBCSN completely at the end of 2021,” said Mr. Bevacqua.
NBCSN is available in 80.1 million homes, according to Nielsen’s latest estimate, which is lower than ESPN (83.1 million) and FS1 (80.2 million).
The channel was launched by Comcast in 1995 as the Outdoor Life Network. She was best known for airing the Tour de France before she bought the rights to the NHL in 2005. She then changed her name to Versus in 2006 and to NBC Sports Network in 2012 after Comcast bought NBC Universal , the previous year.
Mr. Bevacqua said in the memo that Stanley Cup games and NASCAR races will be transferred to USA Network starting this year. The channel, available to 85.6 million homes, has been broadcasting NHL playoff games from the first rounds since 2012.
“This will make USA Network an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media market and give our sports programming a significant increase in audiences,” Bevacqua predicted. We believe that the importance of this offer is the best long term strategy for our sports group, our partners and our company. ”
News of NBCSN’s shutdown comes at a time when NBC must renegotiate several of its major deals. The network is in its last of 10 years of the contract with the NHL. Negotiations for the Premier League’s broadcast rights from the 2022-2223 season are ongoing.
Several observers predict that the next NHL game broadcast rights deal will involve several partners, including ESPN and Fox Sports. NBC’s current contract averages $ 200 million per season at the Bettman Tour.
Premier League deals are typically for three years, but NBC got a six-year package in 2015 paying almost $ 1 billion.
The NASCAR Series, which races from July through November on NBC and NBCSN, has an agreement until 2024.
The IndyCar Series contract, which includes the Indianapolis 500 miles, expires at the end of this year. She said in a statement that NBC “has always been a transparent partner, and we are aware of this change in strategy coming”.
Tag Garson, a vice president at sports marketing firm Wasserman, says TNT and TBS have already proven that it is possible to have a cable channel that can blend entertainment and sports well together.
“NBC has done a great job with hockey and soccer because it would be difficult for anyone to walk away from it,” he says. How many windows can you integrate programming in the United States? It is on this ground that the internal discussions will take place. You will want to strike a good balance between sport and entertainment. ”
NBC may also put additional events on its Peacock streaming service which launched last year. No less than 175 Premier League games are shown on Peacock this season.