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NBCUniversal is pulling the plug on NBCSN, its cable sports network.
The channel will shut down by the end of 2021, with its signature live sporting events airing instead on USA Network and Peacock.
According to a memo to staff from NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua, NHL games (including Stanley Cup playoff contests) and NASCAR races will start running on USA this year, “with key elements of NBCSN’s programming moving to USA Network and, in some cases, Peacock for 2022 and beyond.”
The channel, which launched in 1995 and went through a few iterations before rebranding as NBC Sports Network in 2012, served as a cable TV home for NHL hockey, live Olympics coverage, Premier League soccer and NASCAR races. It was available in slightly less than 80 million homes as of 2020.
In his memo, Bevacqua suggests that the move would bolster the viewership for NBC’s marquee sports programming by putting it on USA, which is more widely distributed and has more viewers than NBCSN, while also giving USA a signifiant programming boost.
“This will make USA Network an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace, and gives our sports programming a significant audience boost,” Bevacqua wrote. “We believe that the power of this offering is the best long-term strategy for our Sports Group, our partners, and our Company.”
Read his full memo, below.
January 22, 2021
Team: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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