NBC announced today that they will be shutting down their NBC Sports Network by the end of the year. This is big news and could affect WWE’s programming on the USA Network. The NBC Sports Network will cease operations by the end of 2021 and move live telecasts of sports programming to the USA Network and their Peacock streaming service.
With live sporting events coming to the USA Network, this could have an impact on RAW and NXT. Of course, both shows air in primetime on Monday and Wednesdays. The biggest ratings draw for the NBC Sports Network has been for their coverage of the NHL. The hockey games have been a staple of NBCSN on Wednesday nights. If the NHL coverage does move to the USA Network, this would more than likely affect WWE NXT and they may need to move nights. As you’d expect, the NHL games would take top priority as they bring in much higher ratings and better advertising.
As far as Monday’s are concerned, this has been mainly used for NASCAR coverage on the NBC Sports Network. It should be noted that WWE previously left the USA Network for Spike TV back in the early 2000s because USA wouldn’t guarantee that RAW wouldn’t be preempted for the US Open and The Westminster Dog Show. With that being said, RAW has not been pre-empted since their return to the network in 2005. The show also remains their highest-rated program despite the ratings drop in recent years.
You can check out the internal memo sent by NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua below:
We’re all aware of how quickly the media landscape is evolving, and our Company is taking thoughtful steps to stay ahead of these trends wherever possible and, in many instances, help set them.
As evidence of our strong commitment to live sports programming, we recently transitioned all of Golf Channel’s linear studio productions to Stamford, and we’re producing multiple new programs for Peacock and other platforms in Stamford as well. In addition, we’re doing more in partnership with our colleagues at Telemundo and Sky Sports.
Commencing later this year, USA Network will begin carrying and/or simulcasting certain NBC Sports programming, including NHL Stanley Cup Playoff games and NASCAR races, as part of a larger transition within the Company.
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, with key elements of NBCSN’s programming moving to USA Network and, in some cases, Peacock for 2022 and beyond.
This will make USA Network an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace, and gives our sports programming a significant audience boost. We believe that the power of this offering is the best long-term strategy for our Sports Group, our partners, and our Company.
This transition, combined with our robust portfolio of assets, including Golf Channel, The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, RSNs, SportsEngine, GolfNow, digital, audio, sports betting and gaming, puts us in an even stronger position as leaders in the sports media space and to continue to grow our business.
We will keep you informed as the broader plan develops, and please join me for a virtual meeting on Tuesday afternoon, January 26 to answer your questions. A meeting invitation will follow shortly.
Thank you for everything you’re doing on behalf of NBC Sports Group.”