NBC to shut down NBC Sports Network at end of 2021

FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2017, file photo, Peter Bevacqua, then CEO of the PGA of America, speaks during a news conference at the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. NBC will shut down the NBC Sports Network at the end of the year. NBC Sports Chairman Bevacqua announced the move Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in an internal memo to staff. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2017, file photo, Peter Bevacqua, then CEO of the PGA of America, speaks during a news conference at the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. NBC will shut down the NBC Sports Network at the end of the year. NBC Sports Chairman Bevacqua announced the move Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in an internal memo to staff. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The NBC Sports Network, which is best known for its coverage of the NHL and English Premier League, will be going away at the end of the year.

NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua announced the channel's shutdown on Friday in an internal memo to staff.

“At the conclusion of 2021, we have decided that the best strategic next step for our Sports Group and the entire Company is to wind down NBCSN completely,” Bevacqua said in the memo.

NBCSN is available in 80.1 million homes, according to Nielsen's latest estimate, which is less than ESPN (83.1 million) and FS1 (80.2 million).

The channel was launched by Comcast in 1995 as the Outdoor Life Network. It was best known for carrying the Tour de France until it acquired the NHL in 2005. It changed its name to Versus in 2006 and then to NBC Sports Network six years later after Comcast bought NBC Universal in 2011.

Bevacqua said in the memo that Stanley Cup playoff games and NASCAR races would be moving to USA Network this year. USA Network, which is available in 85.6 million homes, had already been airing early-round playoff games since 2012.

“This will make USA Network an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace, and gives our sports programming a significant audience boost,” Bevacqua said. “We believe that the power of this offering is the best long-term strategy for our Sports Group, our partners, and our Company.”

The news of NBCSN shutting down also comes during a time when many of NBC Sports Group’s most valuable sports properties are coming up for renewal. This is the last season of a 10-year deal with the NHL and negotiations for the EPL rights, beginning with the 2022-23 season, are ongoing.