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NBC Sports Network will cease operations in 2021

The NBC Sports activities Community is shutting down.

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

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

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

However not one of the cable sports activities networks have ever critically threatened ESPN, and the media trade’s transfer towards streaming video has made linear sports activities networks anachronistic. NBCUniversal is contemplating shutting down a number of networks, CNBC reported in October, to consolidate its greatest property in fewer networks. Shuttering underperforming cable networks may enable legacy media firms to maintain the shrinking cable bundle afloat whereas sustaining subscription income by boosting charges for its current networks.

The community began within the Nineteen Nineties because the Outside Life Community, 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 activities Community at the moment.

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

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

NBCSN additionally has a $4.4 billion rights package deal with NASCAR that expires in 2024 and developing on its renewal possibility with European soccer Premier League rights (price roughly $1 billion). The community moved a few of these video games to NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, final yr.

Again to the longer term

Longtime sports activities media rights advisor Lee Berke mentioned the transfer is “again to the longer term” for USA Community airing sports activities content material. The channel was initially a nationwide distribution arm for Madison Sq. Backyard Sports activities Community, airing sports activities content material together with the Nationwide Basketball Affiliation till 1984.

“The truth that sports activities are returning to the USA is not a brand new idea,” Berke informed CNBC in an interview on Friday. “Actually the distribution is useful however this transfer is reflective of a few issues — the pay-TV bundle is shrinking. The subscriber base is shrinking. So, it justifies fewer networks to be on the air and the opposite a part of it’s the development of streaming.”

Berke, the CEO of LHB Sports activities, a sports activities consultancy agency, mentioned streaming tendencies are forcing the community to reinvent themselves “as shopper viewing habits modifications. The was a migration of sports activities from broadcast to cable over the previous 20, 30 years when pay-TV turned larger and greater. And now you are seeing sports activities migrating to streaming.

“I feel it is a smart transfer given the tendencies which are happening,” mentioned Berke of NBCSN’s closure. “You are attempting to remain forward of the wave. You do not wish to be behind it and miss out. However this is sensible based mostly on the place pay-TV is heading and base on the place streaming is heading.”

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