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NBC Says NB See Ya To National Network

Some expected it and others were surprised, but the upcoming end of NBCSN will have an immediate impact on the sports media landscape. Despite some ratings success over the past couple of years, it appears that the pandemic caused the NBC brass to consolidate even more than they already have.

Staff cuts on its regional sports networks hit last summer, with another round since the first of the year. With NBCSN able to move any remaining sports programming to USA Network, they can reduce production staff and operation costs while not having to fill air time with wasted programming.

Back in the 80's, USA Network was a major sports presence on cable, more so than ESPN at the time. USA Network had Thursday Night Baseball with MLB doubleheaders, as well as NHL regular season and playoff telecasts. (This was where NHL fans first heard Doc Emrick calling games at the national level.)

This season is the final one of the NBC contract with the NHL. While NBC has done a superb job with its coverage, including showing every playoff game on one of its networks, the NHL remains the only one of the four major sports which has only one network controlling its telecasts. While it is possible that NBC retains its national game presence, it is also possible that Fox Sports would be a player, needing more content for FS1 and FS2.

Word is that NBCSN will go away during 2021. It is understandable that they do not have a date yet. Due to the pandemic, we are not sure if and when there will be Olympic Games in 2021. Nor are we certain that the NHL Playoffs would end in July as currently planned.

Events such as NASCAR and Premier League soccer would be assigned to USA Network. Speculation has its Peacock service also carrying some of the events via that platform. Peacock already carries roughly 175 matches currently.

It is not known, as of press time, how much (or how little) the impact of the pandemic was behind this decision. As we commented on last week, even with millions of people spending more time at home, viewership of the major sports is down from a year ago and beyond. This makes us wonder if we will see more cutbacks on all sports networks as a means of sending a message to the pro leagues that rights fees may start to decline during upcoming negotiations.


Over at ESPN, it's looking like the Monday Night Football broadcast crew might be staying in place for more than the one season. Word is that Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick have passed the audition and will be brought back for at least the 2021 season. Word is that ESPN is looking to add the just retired Philip Rivers to its roster of analysts. Hard to imagine Rivers being added and not made a part of the network's weekly telecast.


While CBS prepares for the Super Bowl telecast, there is more emphasis this time around on making its streaming of the game more readily available. Finally, it will be available without additional cost. Viewers will be able to stream the game on CBSSports.com, Yahoo Sports, along with Verizon Media for its customers. ESPN Deportes will air the Spanish version.


Meanwhile, VIZIO has now joined Samsung in having a variety of sports apps available to their Smart TV owners. VIZIO now has free channels available including NFL Channel (different from NFL Network), CBS Sports App, and the Pac 12 Insider. Samsung allows Smart TV owners to access paid apps such as MLB for its owners.



This post first appeared on THE BROADCAST BOOTH, please read the originial post: here

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NBC Says NB See Ya To National Network

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