Big changes were announced today that could have major implications on WWE programming. NBC will be shutting down their NBC Sports channel at the end of 2021 as confirmed by Sports Business Daily. This means that their NASCAR and NHL programming will likely be moving to the USA Network.
This has not been confirmed, but the NHL regularly has games on Wednesdays. If those games were to be broadcast on the USA Network, it would certainly mean NXT would be moving days at least on a semi-regular basis. NXT has been aired on Tuesdays in the past so it doesn’t seem impossible to happen again.
Additionally, NASCAR could impact the airing of Raw on Monday nights. However, USA Network is currently paying top dollar for the rights to Raw, which could be they would be exempt from being preempted. This was not the case in the 90s and early 2000s as Raw would often be bumped in favor of tennis and the Westminster Dog Show.
NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua sent this internal memo regarding the situation, which has been published by Deadline.com:
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.