NBC Sports Network will shut down in 2021 and sports rights will move to USA Network

Ivan Provorov #9 of the Philadelphia Flyers performs the puck in opposition to Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins through the first interval in a Round Robin recreation through the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff at Scotiabank Arena on August 02, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario.

Mark Blinch | National Hockey League | Getty Images

The NBC Sports Network is shutting down.

The community will cease operations by the tip of 2021, an individual accustomed to the plan confirmed to CNBC. NBC will switch its sports media rights, together with the National Hockey League, to USA Network. The individual spoke to CNBC on situation of anonymity as the person is not allowed to remark publicly on the matter. Both networks are owned by CNBC mother or father firm NBCUniversal.

The plan to halt operations will permit NBC to entice extra attain for its sports content material. USA Network is out there in 86 million properties, whereas NBCSN has an estimated 80 million family attain.

NBCUniversal initially hoped NBC Sports Network could be its response to Disney‘s ESPN — a cable sports community that might justify excessive affiliate charges from pay-TV distributors due to its in style sports content material. Twenty-first Century Fox developed Fox Sports 1 and CBS launched CBS Sports Network for comparable causes.

But not one of the cable sports networks have ever significantly threatened ESPN, and the media business’s move towards streaming video has made linear sports networks anachronistic. NBCUniversal is contemplating shutting down a number of networks, CNBC reported in October, to consolidate its finest property in fewer networks. Shuttering underperforming cable networks may permit legacy media firms to hold the shrinking cable bundle afloat whereas sustaining subscription income by boosting charges for its present networks.

The community began within the 1990s because the Outdoor Life Network, then was rebranded to Versus in 2006. Comcast owned the community when it took over NBCUniversal in 2011, and rebranded it because the NBC Sports Network at the moment.

NHL playoff video games, a collection of NASCAR races, and Premier League content material will switch to USA Network after NBCSN closes.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based community took over NHL rights with a 10-year, $2 billion package deal in 2011. The settlement runs via the present 2020-21 season.

NBCSN additionally has a $4.Four billion rights package deal with NASCAR that expires in 2024 and developing on its renewal choice with European’s soccer Premier League rights (price roughly $1 billion). The community moved a few of these video games to NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, final 12 months.

Back to the long run

Longtime sports media rights advisor Lee Berke stated the move is “back to the future” for USA Network airing sports content material. The channel was initially a nationwide distribution arm for Madison Square Garden Sports Network, airing sports content material together with the National Basketball Association till 1984.

“The fact that sports is returning to USA isn’t a new concept,” Berke instructed CNBC in an interview on Friday. “Certainly the distribution is helpful but this move is reflective of a couple of things — the pay TV bundle is shrinking. Subscriber base is shrinking. So, it justifies fewer networks to be on the air and the other part of it is the growth of streaming.”

Berke, the CEO of LHB Sports, a sports consultancy agency, stated streaming tendencies is forcing community to reinvent themselves “as consumer viewing behavior changes. The was a migration of sports from broadcast to cable over the past 20, 30 years when pay TV became bigger and bigger. And now you’re seeing sports migrating to streaming.

“I feel its a wise move given the tendencies which can be going down,” said Berke of NBCSN’s closure. “You’re attempting to keep forward of the wave. You don’t desire to be behind it and miss out. But this is smart primarily based off the place pay TV is heading and base on the place streaming is heading.”

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which is the mother or father firm of CNBC.

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