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NBC Sports Network Chairman Pete Bevacqua disclosed the channel’s shutdown at the end of the year in an internal memo, as reported by numerous news outlets on Jan. 22, 2021.
Comcast launched the Sports channel in 1995 as the Outdoor Life Network. This channel was known for carrying the Tour de France until they acquired the NHL in 2005.
Their name was changed to Versus in 2006, and six years later, it was changed to NBC Sports Network after Comcast bought NBC Universal in 2011. According to Nielsen’s latest estimate, the Sports group is only available in 80.1 million homes, less than ESPN at 83.1 million and FS1 at 80.2 million.
In his memo, Bevacqua said that the Stanley Cup playoff games and NASCAR races would move to USA Network this year. The USA Network is available in 85.6 million homes and has already been airing early-round 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, We believe that the power of this offering is the best long-term strategy for our Sports Group, our partners, and our Company.
These changes come as the NHL’s 10-year deal with the NBC group is in its last year, and the lease on the Sports Group’s most valuable sports properties is up for renewal. The group’s negotiations for the EPL rights are continuing.
It is anticipated that the next rights deal with the NHL will have other networks along with NBC Sports, such as ESPN and Fox Sports. The current deal the sports group has with the NHL averages $200 million per season.
Most league deals are for three years, but the sports group achieved a six-year deal in 2015, paying nearly $1 billion.
Written by Omari Jahi
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
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MSN: NBCUniversal to Shut Down Sports Network NBCSN at End of 2021; Brian Steinberg
NBC News: NBC to shut down sports cable channel NBCSN; Ahiza García-Hodges and Dylan Byers
Featured and Top Image by Guillaume Vachey Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License