By Teddy Brenner
Comcast is shutting down its NBC Sports Network by the end of 2021.
So, where does that leave the NHL and its national TV contract?
Try Peacock, its streaming service.
Some of the major programming on NBCSN, including the NHL and English Premier League, are expected to move to the USA Network.
“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,” NBCUniversal said in a memo Friday.
NBC holds the NHL’s national rights, but NBCSN aired more NHL national games than NBC. The NHL’s TV deal with NBC is up at the end of the 2020-21 season. This leads to a natural question, what does this mean for the NHL?
“It’s all good for the NHL,” Patrick Crakes, a former Fox Sports executive who now runs Crakes Media Consulting said. “There is no bad here for the NHL.”
According to Crakes, it’s a two-fold development of positivity for the NHL. For starters, if NHL games are moving from NBCSN to USA, the league is moving into more homes and gaining more viewership.
Crakes said it’s possible that NBC could use the NHL to put exclusive games within its Peacock streaming platform, which NBC has been working to bolster, but the NHL likely wouldn’t allow that to happen without at least keeping a similar number of games broadcast on USA or NBC, if not more.
And even if NBC is looking for fewer NHL games, which is possible, it opens the league to more easily pick up a second national TV partner.
“The NHL can now make more money with another high-quality partner in addition to NBC at the end of this deal,” Crakes said. “If that’s the case, where is the bad?”