Editor’s note: As Premier League games move to USA beginning in 2022, find out what this means for soccer fans.
NBCSN will officially be going dark at the end of 2021. News of the sports channel being shut down isn’t exactly earth shattering. Sports Business Journal predicted the demise almost twelve months ago that it would go out of business. However, what is new is there are some interesting developments in the decision.
At the end of December 31, much of NBC Sports programming will shift to the USA network. This includes Premier League matches that would have normally aired on NBCSN. USA will broadcast a trio of Premier League games on January 1. Subsequently, many more will air on USA for the remainder of the 2021/22 season. No doubt, the decision to transition live sports programming from NBCSN to USA has been in the works for some time.
Here is what NBC Sports Programming Executive Vice President Tom Knapp said about the news:
“The strategic and intentional move of sports content to USA was a long and collaborative process with our corporate cousins at USA. It has created the cable version of a broadcast network, with the exception of news.”
Some may question why sports will now be on a network that primarily focuses on television dramas. However, Knapp suggests that the move could potentially bring in new fans. “The entertainment viewer will be exposed to these sports properties in ways that they haven’t been before. We believe that cross-pollination will be good for everybody,” he said.
Premier League games move to USA
USA actually began as a cable channel called the Madison Square Garden Network in 1977. The old MSG channel previously broadcasted MLB, NHL, NBA, as well as boxing, tennis, and wrestling.
As of December 2020, USA was in 86 million households in the United States. That was down four million from the previous year. This is still actually around six million more households than NBCSN at the time of the report.
Fifteen years ago, USA was the number one primetime cable network. Nevertheless, as cable TV subscriptions have steadily declined in recent years, NBC is clearly consolidating their networks to help ease the pain of dwindling cable viewers.
Although many Premier League matches will air on USA, some will appear on NBC’s other sister channels. For example, they will air across NBC, CNBC and E!, as well as their streaming service Peacock.
Along with Premier League games, USA is also set to broadcast IndyCar and NASCAR races, college basketball, golf, and Olympic sports in 2022.
NBCSN is shutting down in the middle of the bidding process for the next round of Premier League TV rights. How that will impact future broadcasts will certainly be a talking point. NBC’s exclusive Premier League coverage in the U.S. is set to expire at the end of the current campaign. ESPN, CBS, Amazon Prime and FOX are all thought to be in competition with NBC to secure the next contract with the Premier League.
As always, be sure to check our regularly updated Premier League television schedule to know exactly where to find each game.
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