If you watch sports on the NBC Sports Network, you’re soon going to have to change the channel to see the games and sporting events you enjoy.
The 24-hour sports network will go dark on December 31, 2021, as the NBC Sports branding shifts away from the channel that’s home to the likes of the English Premier League (soccer), NASCAR and the National Hockey League.
While the shutdown news is not new (NBC had previously announced plans to sunset the network), the approaching end date does leave many viewers with some questions about what’s next.
A recent report from the Sports Business Journal (SBJ) shed some light on how fans of the sporting events currently broadcast on the network will have to adjust in the weeks and months ahead.
This could impact the way you spend your money on live TV streaming services, so we think it’s important to keep you up to date on the latest.
USA Network Will Carry the English Premier League
Perhaps the most popular sporting event currently broadcast on NBC Sports Network is coverage of English Premier League soccer matches.
According to the report from the SBJ, the USA Network will immediately pick up the slack on Premier League coverage the day after NBC Sports Network signs off for the final time.
USA Network will broadcast a triple-header of Premier League soccer matches that will begin at 7 a.m. Eastern time on January 1, 2022. This is the first of what has been reported to be at least 1,500 hours of live sports coverage that will move from the NBC Sports Network to the USA Network.
USA, which you probably know for airing marathons of syndicated crime shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit or NCIS, is owned by NBCUniversal Media, and it will have a key role in helping maintain the company’s sports presence in the absence of NBCSN.
If you’re a soccer fan, you may want to start thinking ahead to ensure that your live TV subscriptions (cable or streaming) include access to the USA Network.
Team Clark’s streaming channel tool can help you pair the USA Network with all of your other favorite channels on a streaming service that makes the most sense for your wallet.
NHL Has Already Moved On: Here’s How To Find It
If you’re a casual hockey fan, you may have tuned in to NBC Sports Network in recent weeks looking to find a regular-season NHL game. You likely were disappointed.
The NHL ended its relationship with NBCSN following the conclusion of the 2020-21 hockey season. The loss of this relationship is one of the contributing factors to NBCUniversal’s choice to sunset NBCSN.
ESPN and TNT now share the broadcast rights to hockey games for the 2021-22 season. And if you want a more immersive NHL viewing experience, a subscription to ESPN+ will unlock access to many out-of-market games.
If you want to watch your local team’s NHL broadcasts, you’ll need access to the regional sports network that owns those broadcast rights. In many markets, that’s a Bally Sports (formerly Fox Sports) network. Many of these channels can be streamed only with a subscription to DIRECTV Stream, as streaming services like YouTube TV and Sling do not have contract agreements with these networks.
USA Network Is Getting More Than Soccer
In addition to the English Premier League matches mentioned earlier, it’s worth noting that the USA Network also is expected to pick up the slack on things like auto racing, golf and Olympic sports.
The SBJ reports that NBCUniversal soon will announce that events like NASCAR and IndyCar races, USGA golf events and the Tour de France will appear on USA Network in 2022. All of these previously aired on NBCSN.
“The strategic and intentional move of sports content to USA was a long and collaborative process with our corporate cousins at USA,” NBC Sports Programming Exec VP Tom Knapp told the Sports Business Journal recently. “It has created the cable version of a broadcast network, with the exception of news.”
It also is expected that the USA Network will continue to be a go-to for Olympic coverage, as NBCUniversal has exclusive rights to broadcast the 2022 winter games. USA Network and NBCSN both contributed to the broadcast of the 2020 summer games in Tokyo.
Peacock May Continue To Carry More Sports
If you weren’t already aware, NBC has been pushing more and more exclusive content to its subscription streaming service called Peacock.
Peacock already has a significant sports presence that includes the NFL’s Sunday Night Football and exclusive Olympics coverage.
And even before the demise of NBCSN, Peacock started carrying live events, including the 2021 French Open (tennis) and English Premier League matches, that aired in past years on the soon-to-be-defunct network.
Even the WWE, which used to have its weekly anchor broadcast on USA Network, now calls Peacock its streaming home.
With NBCSN soon to be gone, you can expect Peacock sports content to continue to grow.
As it stands, there are three different subscription tiers for Peacock: Free, Premium ($5 per month), and Premium Ad-Free ($10 per month).
Most sporting events, such as the EPL matches, require at least a Premium subscription.
Peacock offers a complimentary premium subscription to many Comcast or Xfinity internet or cable TV customers, so you may want to check to see if you can get it for free. If you can’t, there’s still a free trial option to test drive the service before committing to a Premium subscription.
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