NBCUniversal Will Unplug The Olympic Channel After Five-Year Linear TV Run

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The Olympic Channel, which NBCUniversal launched five years ago as a destination for its Olympic programming, is going dark on September 30.

“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,” an NBC Sports spokesperson said in a statement. “We will be announcing our exciting new plans for Olympic content in the fall.”

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When it launched in 2017, the Olympic Channel rebranded NBCU’s Universal HD channel. It was a partnership between the media company and the international and U.S. Olympic committees. While it dipped a toe into live Olympic coverage with the Tokyo Games in 2021, mostly the network aired older contests or shows about Olympic athletes.

NBCU controls the U.S. media rights of the Olympics through 2032 and the Games have been a key strategic pillar for the company over the past three decades.

The demise of the Olympic Channel follows that of the NBC Sports Network in 2021. Programming from NBCSN was mostly rerouted to USA Network and streaming service Peacock. Since its launch in 2020, Peacock has been upping its sports quotient and carried both the Winter Olympics in Beijing as well as the Super Bowl last February. It also reached a deal with Major League Baseball to carry games this season and its Premier League soccer matches continue to be a subscriber draw.

For now, NBCUniversal execs have not indicated where Olympic Channel programming will be found in the future. Peacock is certainly a strategic focus for the company and has the capability to feature live, linear channels within its service, a functionality the company has used to boost its Saturday Night Live, Today and NBC News properties. Yesterday, the company announced that Peacock had doubled its level of commitments from advertisers in the upfront, surpassing $1 billion in revenue for the first time.

Sports Business Journal first reported the news about the Olympic Channel going dark.

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