NBC is set to shut down NBC Sports Network by the end of the year, a decision that could potentially impact WWE’s programming on USA. The network confirmed today (courtesy of Deadline) that they will shutter NBCSN by the end of 2021 and move live telecasts of sports programming to USA Network and, to a lesser extent, their Peacock streaming service.
Live sports coming to USA could obviously have a big impact on WWE, who air Raw and NXT on USA on Mondays and Wednesdays. NHL coverage has been a stable of NBCSN on Wednesdays. While it should be made clear that neither USA nor WWE have stated this, if NHL coverage does move to USA that would logically affect NXT’s Wednesday day or timeslot where it is opposite AEW Dynamite.
Monday nights has traditionally been featured NASCAR coverage on NBCSN, so there is the chance that Raw could also be affected. However, as PWInsider notes WWE previously left USA Network for Spike TV back in the early ’00s because USA wouldn’t guarantee that Raw wouldn’t be preempted for the US Open and The Westminster Dog Show. Since WWE returned to USA in 2005, Raw has not been pre-empted and it remains their highest-rated program even with the much-discussed ratings drops.
An internal memo sent by NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua as revealed by Dateline is 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.