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The American sports channel NBC Sports Network will be shut down by the end of 2021, the company confirmed on Friday. (Photo : Scott Halleran/Getty Images for KPMG)
The American sports channel NBC Sports Network will be shut down by the end of 2021, the company confirmed on Friday.
NBC Sports Network will now close
In a report by the Associated Press, Pete Bevacqua, the chairman of NBC Sports, revealed that the company has decided to close the sports TV channel in an internal memorandum on Friday.
In the memo, Bevacqua said that the company decided on the best strategy that will fit the sports channel. That is to tail off the Sports Network entirely.
“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,” Bevacqua said in the memo.
According to the latest estimate of Nielsen Holdings, the NBC Sports Network is only available in 80.1 million homes. Compared to ESPN’s 83.1 million and Fox Sports 1’s 80.2 million, NBC Sports Network has the least availability among the top three sports channels in the United States.
The shutdown of the NBC Sports Network will be a lifeline for another NBC Universal cable channel, USA Network which broadcasts NASCAR races and the National Hockey League.
In addition, according to CNN, Peacock, NBC Universal’s new streaming service will telecast some content from NBC Sports Network next year.
“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,” the Comcast-owned NBC Universal memo read.
Comcast pioneered the NBC Universal as the Outdoor Life Network in 1995. The Tour de France made it popular until 2005 came when the NHL was acquired. A year later, it was rebranded to Versus until it came up with NBC Sports Network after six years when Comcast purchased NBC Universal in 2011.
Now with its impending closure, the firsthand drawback could be its impact on the sports audiences. In the case of the Tour de France broadcast, it would be a challenge for the American fans of cycling to revert to the traditional medium next year.
The news brought a surprise to the watchers as the update for the Tour de France broadcast is not included in the memo. But, according to Velo News, The Wall Street Journal reporter Joe Flint wrote on his Twitter that the famed race could head to Peacock streaming service.
Besides Tour de France, the closure will most likely affect those sports events hailing from the Bay Area. NHL’s San Jose Sharks, NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and MLB’s Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants.
The addition of the NBC Sports Network to USA Network could be a big leap to the traditional media. Cable companies are reported to experience tension with other streaming outlets like Netflix because consumers much preferred it over the cable channels.
The WWE Programming will also be affected by the closure of the sports channel. Since the NHL and NASCAR will now be broadcasted on USA Network, the WWE NXT show could face a change in schedule. The WWE RAW on the other hand could be exempted in the transition, as the USA Network pays for a higher premium for its flagship show.
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