Photo: Kill the Cable Bill
According to Sports Business Daily, NBC has told some distributors and sports leagues that they plan to shut NBCSN down at the end of 2021. NBC’s most recent affiliate deals with Dish Network and Charter do not carry NBCSN beyond this calendar year. In addition, sports leagues that have deals with NBC were told of the changes earlier this week.
NBC currently has a bigger strategy to grow its Peacock streaming service and bolster other networks associated with NBC such as USA Network. After this season, the NHL coverage will move to USA Network while keeping some windows on the broadcast channel.
USA is a far bigger bread-winner for the company than is NBCSN, as it brings in approximately $1.65 per sub per month in carriage fees. That works out to some $1.7 billion in annual affiliate revenue. NBCSN’s much lower fee ($0.45/sub/month) and smaller distribution footprint adds up to a yearly haul of $431.5 million.
The beefed-up distribution of USA could help draw a bigger crowd to NBC’s hockey and auto-racing properties. USA closed out 2020 ranked 20th among all ad-supported cable networks, with a nightly audience of 902,000 viewers, while NBCSN finished tied for 64th place with an average delivery of 245,000 primetime viewers. NBCSN’s ratings were understandably diminished by the four-month sports hiatus.
NBC has had the national broadcasting rights to the NHL in the United States for the past 15 years. The contract between both sides is set to expire at the end of this season. The NHL has made it clear that it wants to split its rights between at least two TV outlets.
NBC has told the NHL that it would accommodate regular windows on its broadcast channel, USA Network, and Peacock.
By Harrison Brown