TV | January 23, 2021 7:00 am

NBC Sports Network to Be Shuttered by Year’s End

Are you ready for lots more sports on Peacock?

NBC Sports Network studios covering the English Premier League
NBC Sports Network presenters Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe,, at work in the NBC Sports Network studios in 2013.
Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

With streaming services on the rise, what is the fate of the specialized cable network? NBC Sports Network (better known as NBCSN) has, since 2012, offered viewers a wide range of sporting events. Fans of the Premier League, NASCAR and the NHL have, in particular, tuned in to NBCSN for regular broadcasts of their preferred teams. Soon, though, that’s all set to change.

A new report from Sports Business Daily notes that NBC has told a number of sports leagues and media distributors that it plans to close NBCSN down by year’s end. This could seem like a counterproductive decision; after all, according to Kevin Draper at The New York Times, NBCSN was “the second most viewed cable sports channel in 2020.” That’s an impressive metric all its own.

Why give up a popular cable channel that brings in hundreds of millions of dollars annually? The allure of streaming. Soccer fans have already noticed some high-profile games — including a high-profile match between Liverpool and Manchester United — bring broadcast via Comcast’s streaming service Peacock. According to the Sports Business Daily report, some games will move to the USA Network in the absence of NBCSN.

The question of whether NBC will continue to have NHL broadcast rights after their agreement ends this year remains open. Another question regarding the announcement is more pragmatic; specifically, as Draper notes, “whether NBCUniversal can find enough airtime on NBC and USA Network to ensure those leagues and others plenty of games on traditional television.”

They’re not insignificant questions — and it’s likely that more leagues and broadcasters will wrestle with questions like these in the coming years.