NBCUniversal is shutting down another sports cable channel.
The company said Friday that it will shut down its Olympic Channel on Sept. 30. The company had previously shut down its NBCSN sports network at the end of last year.
A spokesperson for NBC Sports says that the company will figure out where the Olympic Channel’s sports content will live once the channel shuts down.
“In order to best reach our target audiences, we are reevaluating our programming distribution strategy regarding the content that currently airs on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA with our partners at the IOC and USOPC,” the spokesperson said. “We will be announcing our exciting new plans for Olympic content in the fall.”
In the case of NBSN, NBCUniversal shifted some of its live events to USA Network, and the rest to the company’s Peacock streaming service.
NBCUniversal has been the exclusive TV home (in the U.S., at least) for the winter and summer Olympics since 2000, and has a long-term rights deal with the IOC running through the 2032 games.
That was the context behind the Olympic Channel’s launch in 2017, with the U.S Olympic Committee serving as a minority owner of the venture. The channel has aired live events featuring Olympic sports outside of the games itself (think world championships, etc). Last year’s Tokyo Olympics marked the first time that the channel carried live Olympics events, with coverage of tennis and wrestling during the games.
Increasingly, however, as the pay-TV bundle declines, and the Olympic Channel’s availability dwindles (it was in 47 million homes at the end of 2021, according to Comcast’s annual report, compared to 80 million for USA), the company has begun to rethink its approach to spots coverage.
And so on TV, NBC and USA have become the de facto home for sports, with Peacock betting big on Olympics broadcasts in streaming. For the 2022 Beijing games earlier this year, Peacock streamed all events live, a first for the streaming service.
Last year, NBCSN was the first casualty. This year, it’s the Olympic Channel’s turn to feel the pain.