NBCSN Shutting Down at the End of 2021: Report

by Will Shepard

The sports world is about to be shaken up. NBCUniversal is going to shut down their main sports channel, NBCSN, at the end of 2021.

The announcement comes on Friday, January 22. The majority of NBCSN’s sports coverage will transfer over to USA Network. However, the niche sports will move to its popular streaming site, Peacock. Anything not deemed up to par will likely have to find a home elsewhere.

NBC Sports Group Chairman, Pete Bevacqua, says that they are still focused on bringing the U.S. sports.

“We’re absolutely committed more than ever to live sports as a company, and having such a huge platform like USA Network airing some of our key sports content is great for our partners, distributors, viewers, and advertisers alike.” 

NBC is home to a large number of current sports. There are some big sports among those they broadcast. These include the NHL, NASCAR, IndyCar, and soccer’s English Premier League. A lot of these games are broadcast on NBCSN, including almost a game per night for the NHL.

Continuing with his statement, Bevacqua says that, “USA Network will begin carrying and/or simulcasting certain NBC Sports programming, including NHL Stanley Cup Playoff games and NASCAR races, as part of a larger transition within the company.”

Ending NBCSN Means a Drastic Shift For Major Sports

The NHL will now face the biggest questions as their rights are almost exclusively with NBCSN. NHL games have been on NBCSN for the past 15 years. But, their broadcast rights are expiring after this season. It is rumored that ESPN wants back in on the NHL.

However, NBC is still working on a new long term deal with the NHL for broadcast rights. Again, though, those rights likely won’t be exclusive.

NBC says that it will carve out prime viewing hours during USA Network’s time slots for the NHL. With USA Network alone, the NHL would have access to 86.2 million potential viewers, not to mention Peacock.

NASCAR’s TV deal, on the other hand, runs through 2024. But, unlike the NHL, their rights are split with FOX Sports as well. So the shift for them won’t be as drastic. NBC and NBCSN broadcast NASCAR races during the second half of their season.

But that is the extent of the major sports that will be affected. Golf Channel and the Olympic Channel will not be affected by NBCSN ending.

NBCSN was originally a piece of Comcast back in 1995. NBCSN was the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) during that period. At the time, their biggest sport was the Tour de France. In 2006, OLN got the rights to the NHL and switched its name to Versus. In 2011, Comcast bought NBC and Versus was changed to NBCSN.