NBCSN’s days are numbered as a channel

NBCSN, the home of the Premier League in the United States, could be completely gone within the next 12 months, according to a prediction by a top media journalist.

Fans of the Premier League in the United States have for the last several years been accustomed to a default linear TV channel to watch the league. NBCSN has been the home of most Premier League linear telecasts in the U.S. since August 2013. However, last week, highly-respected writer John Ourand of Sports Business Journal echoed much of the chatter in the media industry making the prediction for 2021 that NBCSN will be gone by year’s end.

Ourand predicted:

Late in the year — think November or December — NBC Sports will shut down its sports channel and move NHL and EPL programming to USA Network and Peacock. The move is part of a strategy to grow NBC’s streaming service, while keeping its big entertainment channel relevant in a cord-cutting world. The move creates a glut of smaller programming — like car shows and dog shows — in the media marketplace.

Broadcast television has changed remarkably since Comcast completed its buyout of NBCUniversal in early 2013. Later that year, the Premier League debuted on NBCSN, a channel which was previously owned by Comcast prior to the merger with NBCUniversal and called Versus.

It is logical that NBCUniversal would look to consolidate content and close down NBCSN. For starters, the channel as a stand-alone property doesn’t bring either the viewership numbers nor the carriage fees that Disney’s ESPN sports channels do. Secondly, NBCSN content can be spread easily to Peacock to give NBC a competitive boost in its battle against Disney and Viacom-owned streaming competitors that mix sports, entertainment and news.

Streaming content, which was a supplementary add-on for most cable viewers in 2013, has as 2021 approaches become for many consumers an outright substitute for cable. For many Premier League viewers in the U.S., it might be easier to have access to all league content via Peacock, NBC’s over-the-air channel and USA Network, which is on basic cable in most places, than to have to keep a premium cable tier/sports pack to receive NBCSN. In a world of cord-cutting, while a shutdown of NBCSN would inconvenience some Premier League fans, for many it might provide an opportunity to consolidate viewing platforms and reduce costs.

Ourand made another NBC-related Premier League prediction which has far greater long-term implications for the league’s viewership in the U.S. than the potential shutdown of NBCSN. He predicted:

NBC will start negotiating a new EPL deal early in the summer. Even though other media companies will try to grab those rights, NBC will lock them up for another six-year term. NBC will create more windows on its broadcast channel, plus run games on USA Network and Peacock, while keeping the most matches behind a paywall on Peacock.

For the record, this prediction, unlike the one about NBCSN shutting down, surprised me. I have been operating for the last 12-18 months under the assumption that the flatlining of Premier League ratings on both NBC and NBCSN, the likely shutdown of NBCSN, as well as the gravitating of content to behind a paywall was a sign NBC was trying to recoup losses incurred on the current 6-year rights deal the broadcaster made with the league in 2015. As a result of these factors, I felt that in all likelihood, the Premier League would begin life with another U.S. media partner at the end of this rights cycle, in August 2022.

My assumption was that a purely streaming platform such as Amazon Prime, DAZN or Disney’s streaming services would have the resources and the bandwidth to pry the league away from NBC, who arguably overpaid in 2015 for the rights from 2016 to 2022. However, this makes sense from both NBC and the Premier League’s perspective.

How does this potentially create an advantage for the Premier League?

It puts the Premier League on distribution networks not solely dedicated to sports. It may surprise some fans, but being on a platform that features drama series, movies and news gives an additional ramp for non-sports driven people to explore soccer.

With Disney’s recent investor day announcement that they will build ESPN+ content (including several of the Premier League rival competitions) into the Hulu platform, the Premier League will benefit from being on a platform, Peacock, which it shares with popular entertainment and news programming.

READ MORE: Schedule of Premier League games on US TV and streaming

In addition, Peacock provides the Premier League with U.S. access to its in-house TV channel. Having Premier League TV on throughout the day in the U.S. is an important step for providing shoulder and ancillary programming for the league’s fans in this country.

Sticking with NBC would also give the league a leg up on competitors, as it would increase broadcasts on linear TV, which is an option no competitor can offer the league. Additionally, placing select matches on USA Network is an upgrade over matches that currently are on NBCSN or CNBC, in terms of general viewership. However, it might make each match more difficult to find, as a programming guide will be needed to know where each match is broadcast.

How this advantages NBC

Assuming NBCSN is shut down, keeping the Premier League gives even more incentive to push sign-ups for Peacock. As noted above, many fans of the league in the U.S. would potentially benefit from having most of the matches consolidated in one streaming platform, rather than the current almost equal split between streaming and linear TV.

Since Comcast purchased BSkyB in the U.K., we have seen greater synergies in NBC and Sky Sports Premier League coverage. If NBC can reach another long-term deal with the Premier League, those synergies can be further exploited. This not only helps cut production costs but can help along with Peacock’s streaming of Premier League TV to bring U.S. and U.K. coverage of the league in sync.

Time will tell if Ourand’s predictions come to pass, but one thing is for sure – in a media landscape changing rapidly due to streaming and COVID-19, Comcast will continue to tweak its operation to position its NBC properties in the best competitive situation possible.


25+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, Liga MX, MLS & World Cup
  • Includes ESPN, FOX, Univision, TUDN and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
  • Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
  • Watch Argentine league, Brasileirāo and Copa Libertadores
  • Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, Copa del Rey & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo.
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & more
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
Get All 3 And Save 30%
  • $13.99/mo. for ESPN+, Disney+ & Hulu
  • Includes Bundesliga, LaLiga, NHL & the home to UFC
  • Features Marvel, Star Wars + shows & movies for your entire family


  1. Kevin December 23, 2020
  2. Edward December 23, 2020
  3. Jack S. December 23, 2020
  4. Don December 23, 2020
  5. Edward December 23, 2020
  6. Yespage December 23, 2020
  7. Robert DeLine Jr December 23, 2020
  8. disco george December 23, 2020
  9. Azer December 23, 2020
    • Christopher Harris December 23, 2020
  10. Azer December 23, 2020
  11. Michael F December 23, 2020
  12. Michael F December 23, 2020
  13. Marlon Nicholson December 23, 2020
  14. PS December 24, 2020
  15. Steviecs December 24, 2020
  16. John Culea December 24, 2020
    • Christopher Harris December 24, 2020
  17. Eddy G December 24, 2020
  18. Eddy G December 24, 2020
  19. Edward December 25, 2020
  20. John Culea December 25, 2020
    • Christopher Harris December 25, 2020
  21. John Culea December 25, 2020
  22. Michael F December 25, 2020
  23. Ravioliollie Kaye December 25, 2020
  24. Anthony December 25, 2020
  25. Edward December 25, 2020
  26. Hans December 25, 2020
  27. Michael F December 26, 2020
  28. Michael F December 26, 2020
  29. Hans December 26, 2020
  30. Hans December 26, 2020
  31. Adam December 27, 2020
  32. disco george December 27, 2020
  33. Michael F December 27, 2020
  34. Michael F December 27, 2020
  35. Edward December 27, 2020
  36. Hans December 27, 2020
  37. Edward December 27, 2020
  38. Hans December 27, 2020
  39. Michael F December 27, 2020
  40. Michael F December 27, 2020
  41. Adam December 27, 2020
  42. Hans December 27, 2020
  43. Michael F December 28, 2020
  44. Hans December 28, 2020
  45. Michael F December 28, 2020
  46. Hans December 28, 2020
  47. Michael F December 28, 2020
  48. Edward December 28, 2020
  49. Michael F December 29, 2020
  50. Hans December 29, 2020
  51. Tel&Universo Viewer December 29, 2020
  52. CTBlues December 29, 2020
  53. Michael F December 29, 2020
  54. Hans December 29, 2020
  55. Michael F December 29, 2020
  56. Brad December 31, 2020
  57. BD January 23, 2021

Leave a Reply

Translate »