SBJ Media: NBC Sports plans shift to USA; NBCSN goes dark Dec. 31 – Sports Business Journal

 
The Wizards have opened the NBA season at 5-1. I repeat: The Wizards have opened at 5-1! I’m all in this season.
USA Network will carry a triple header of Premier League games on Jan. 1, the day after NBCSN goes dark. Those games, which start at 7am ET, will begin a year where USA Network will carry more than 1,500 hours of sports programming that formerly had been on NBCSN.

Later this week, NBC Sports Group formally will announce the specific sports properties that will migrate from NBCSN to USA Network, including many NASCAR and IndyCar races, USGA and R&A golf championships and Olympic sports. “The strategic and intentional move of sports content to USA was a long and collaborative process with our corporate cousins at USA,” said NBC Sports Programming Exec VP Tom Knapp. “It has created the cable version of a broadcast network, with the exception of news.”

NBC Sports execs believe the move will lead to USA becoming the top-rated sports and entertainment channel on cable. Knapp cited this summer’s Tokyo Games, which positioned USA at the top of the cable ratings list throughout the Games. USA, of course, will keep a big schedule of entertainment programming, too. “The entertainment viewer will be exposed to these sports properties in ways that they haven’t been before,” Knapp said. “And the sports fan will be exposed to entertainment properties in ways that they haven’t before. We believe that cross-pollination will be good for everybody.”

Sports will be moving to more than just USA. CNBC, E! and Peacock also will carry sports events exclusively, Knapp said. Other sports migrating to USA Network include college sports, horse racing and cycling. If you tune into NBCSN on Jan. 1, you’ll see an on-screen graphic telling viewers where they can see specific sports. NBC Sports also will use marketing and social media campaigns to get the word out.
 
 
In its final season on Fox, “Thursday Night Football” is posting a whopping 25% viewership increase over last year, reports SBJ’s Austin Karp. Through four games. Fox and NFL Network are averaging 15.6 million viewers, which is essentially flat with 2019.
The package’s big boost this season came from last week’s Packers-Cardinals game, which attracted the fifth largest “TNF” audience since it launched in 2006. The 20.3 million viewers for last week’s game is the second-biggest audience since Fox started carrying the “TNF” package in 2018. The two networks were averaging 12.5 million after four games last season and 15.7 million in 2019.
“TNF” is headed exclusively to Amazon Prime next season. Amazon is paying in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion per year for the exclusive rights to “TNF,” though games will be available on an over-the-air station in the participating teams’ home markets. It’s unlikely “TNF” will see these types of viewer figures — at least not initially — when it moves over to Amazon’s streaming service.
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