NBC Sports Network Will Shut Down to Bolster Peacock Streaming Service
But the future of television is streaming, and Comcast is determined not to be left behind.
Comcast has shifted its strategy in the past few years to focus on its growing broadband internet business and launched Peacock as part of that effort. The ad-supported service, which is free but includes a paid tier, has attracted at least 22 million subscribers and now surpasses Comcast’s more traditional cable video business of 19 million subscribers.
NBCUniversal has already moved most of its Premier League broadcasts to Peacock, and adding more sports could give the company more leverage in negotiating bundling contracts with other broadband services.
The decision will have a significant impact on a number of upcoming legal negotiations.
For the past decade, NBCUniversal has paid an average of $ 200 million a year to be the only national NHL broadcaster in the US, with most of these games appearing on NBCSN. However, that deal expires after this season, and NBC’s agreement with the English Premier League expires a year later, in 2022.
A question that is likely to surface in future negotiations is whether NBCUniversal can find enough airtime on the NBC and USA networks to provide enough games for these leagues and others on traditional television – which retains the greatest reach – or whether the leagues The virtues of Peacock, which is still a relatively niche streaming service, can be resold.
Peacock is available to Comcast customers free of charge, but the company makes it available to other broadband providers as well. Most cable operators like Charter and Cox are now relying on the broadband business to grow and have bundled streaming services like Netflix into their internet packages. In this arrangement, the cable operators collect a fee from the streaming platforms.
For the past two decades, television broadcasters have required cable sports channels to act as a repository for the overflow of game broadcasts to which they have the rights. ESPN broadcasts so many games that there are now nine cable channels to show them all. However, a streaming service can display an infinite number of games at the same time, eliminating the primary uses of cable sports channels.
While entertainment programs shifted to streaming services in droves, the sport lagged, with the biggest leagues and events still being seen on traditional network television, but most of the games being played over cable. Only the smallest leagues have most of their programming available on streaming platforms – which makes them perhaps the most forward-looking.
Edmund Lee contributed to the coverage.