Turns out that Friday, January 22nd ended up being a huge sports media news day.
In addition to some local departures in Philadelphia, we’ve got national reports telling us that the NBC Sports Network is soon to become extinct, going the way of the Dodo Bird and the Passenger Pigeon:
NBC has told distributors and some sports leagues that it plans to shut down its NBCSN sports channel by the end of the year. Story coming in SBD
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) January 22, 2021
NBC Sports Network is shutting down later this year and big events (NHL and NASCAR among them) will migrate to USA Network. Story coming ASAP.
— Joe Flint (@JBFlint) January 22, 2021
Hmm.. that’s interesting. Does this mean NHL lead-in will now be reruns of Monk and Chicago P.D.? What about the Premier League? Are we going to be forced to buy a Peacock subscription? What happens to the classic car auctions on Verizon FIOS channel 590?
The ironic thing is that more Americans get USA Network, which is in about 86 million homes, according to Ourand. NBCSN is in about 80 million homes. You’re likely to see sports programming on both networks until the NBCSN shutdown is complete.
Keep in mind, the NHL is on an expiring TV deal, so the league could go elsewhere following this season. You’d expect ESPN and FOX to get in on the conversation if the NHL has some trepidation about re-upping with NBC. One positive from this is that if ESPN gets the NHL deal, they may actually talk hockey again! Right now we’re lucky if we get 30 seconds of Barry Melrose reporting from the broom closet in studio F.
For some background, NBCSN launched in 2012, the product of a merger with Versus and NBC Sports. Prior to Versus, it existed as the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) and featured hunting, fishing, and other… outdoor activities. It was somewhat of an ESPN challenger for a little bit, but obviously the Worldwide Leader came out on top.
I’m looking at the memo sent to NBC employees. This is how the transition is explained, in part:
“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.”
Edit 2 –
To clear up the confusion, this doesn’t affect the Sixers or Flyers. NBC is simply getting rid of the national NBC Sports Network channel (590 on FIOS, I think 848 on Comcast). The REGIONAL AFFILIATES will continue to operate as normal, so you’ll see the Phils/Flyers/Sixers on NBC Sports Philadelphia moving forward.