We all knew this was coming.
Coverage for the English Premier League since NBC purchased the rights has been pretty great in the United States, even with the bouncing around between NBC, NBCSN, Gold and Peacock. We will also always get a laugh out of the final day of the season and seeing people complain that an EPL match is on Oxygen.
That’s going to change a bit as it appears Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, will be shuttering NBCSN soon.
NBC has told distributors and some sports leagues that it plans to shut down its NBCSN sports channel by the end of the year. Story coming in SBD— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) January 22, 2021
John Ourand is a sports business journalist and one of the best in the business, so if it’s coming from him there’s no reason to think this is conjecture. Essentially, it comes down to simple numbers regarding value.
NBC Sports Network is extremely cheap for cable providers to pull in, a paltry $.30 per subscriber fee. Fox Sports 1, in comparison, is about $1.30 per subscriber. ESPN is still climbing and pushing $8 per subscriber. Simply put, having a product that is in demand such as English Premier League means it needs better exposure and put on a channel that draws a higher fee. While we can expect Peacock to become a big part of future programming, not that it isn’t already, it’s not outlandish to think that primary coverage might end up on USA.
International Football coverage in the USA has been a mixed bag. NBC, for the most part, has done a good job and managed to hold onto the rights since 2013. ESPN has locked down cup coverage on their streaming service, ESPN+, while European competition has been all over the place. It also means needing more streaming services to subscribe to.
Again, none of this is surprising. While NBCSN isn’t a bad channel, outside of EPL and the occasional NHL game, there’s little in the way of content. Moving to a larger, more established channel such as USA and moving around current programming makes more sense. We’ll see what NBC Universal has in mind, and we’ll know more probably before the season is over.
UPDATE: (2:58PM EDT)
We’re getting more from other writers in the industry and while the numbers are slightly off, it seems safe to assume what we’re thinking: Peacock and USA will be the primary home for EPL.
NBC Sports Network is shutting down later this year and big events (NHL and NASCAR among them) will migrate to USA Network. Story coming ASAP.— Joe Flint (@JBFlint) January 22, 2021
As of the beginning of the pandemic NBCSN was in around 80 million homes and had a sub fee a bit above $.40, meaning it was making NBC ~$400 million annually before advertising is taken into account. That’s a loooooot of money to give up to drive Peacock subscriptions. https://t.co/FTNvT49cVo— Kevin Draper (@kevinmdraper) January 22, 2021