Comcast's NBCUniversal to Shut Down Sports Cable Channel NBCSN by Year-End -- Update
By Joe Flint and Lillian Rizzo
NBCUniversal is shutting down its sports cable channel NBCSN at
the end of the year and migrating much of its programming to its
sister general entertainment network USA, the company said.
The premium properties on NBCSN are the National Hockey League
and Nascar auto racing, both of which will start to transition to
USA Network this year. Some content will remain on both channels
until NBCSN officially turns off the lights. NBCUniversal informed
staffers of the plan Friday afternoon in a company memo.
"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," said NBC Sports Group
Chairman Pete Bevacqua.
By putting high-profile sports on USA Network, NBCUniversal -- a
unit of Comcast Corp. -- is hoping to solve two problems with one
move: Get rid of an underperforming asset and boost an already
powerful one. The Premier Soccer League will also have matches on
NBCSN has struggled to compete against bigger rivals such as
Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN and Fox Corp.'s Fox Sports cable network.
While it has a large national reach, its ratings pale in comparison
to its competition. Fox Corp. and Wall Street Journal parent News
Corp share common ownership.
By putting popular sports on the USA channel, NBCUniversal is
hoping it can increase its value of USA Network to distributors.
Having more sports on USA will also make it a more viable
competitor to WarnerMedia's TBS and TNT channels, which also carry
a mix of entertainment and sports.
The addition of sports won't mean there will be less
entertainment fare on USA, Frances Berwick, chairman of
NBCUniversal's Entertainment Networks, said in a statement. "We
remain committed to original entertainment programming, and believe
that high-profile live sports will complement USA's broad premium
scripted, unscripted and WWE slate," she said.
Write to Joe Flint at firstname.lastname@example.org and Lillian Rizzo at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 22, 2021 15:14 ET (20:14 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.