Universal Sports Network to Shut Down
4 Nov, 2015By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Uncertainty Leading up to Announcement Had Frustrated NGBs Who Were Trying to Ink Deals for Coverage in 2016
Universal Sports Network, the mostly Olympic sports channel co-owned by InterMedia Partners and NBCUniversal, is shutting down November 16, according to an article on the website, Deadline Hollywood. NBCU, which holds an 8% stake in the channel, will pick up USN’s rights to the Olympic sports — the company had held U.S. broadcast rights to the Olympic Games through 2032.
The announcement from the channel comes after nearly a decade in operation, according to an article in Sports Business Daily. NBC execs told the channel’s approximately 75 employees during an early morning meeting in L.A. in late October. The channel also has notified distributors of the date its signal will be taken down.
The decision to shutter Universal altogether was described as “shocking” by one source, said Sports Business Daily. It is unclear how NBC will use those rights on its existing channels, like NBCSN.
NBC Sports Group emailed a statement saying, “We are thrilled to be finalizing an agreement with Universal Sports that will provide NBCUniversal and NBC Sports with an impressive collection of media rights to some of the world’s most prestigious sporting events. We will have more information regarding our plans when the transaction closes in November.”
The uncertainty surrounding Universal’s future, which has lasted throughout most of '15, has frustrated some Olympic sports NGBs as they tried to do deals covering '16 while not knowing the channel’s future.