Ratings for the NBC Sports Network have tanked without the NHL. Over the last month, the top-rated programs on the network have consistently been outdoors shows, with hunting and fishing features taking up 14 of the top 20 highest rated timeslots this month. There were just two programs that drew over 200,000 viewers: bonus coverage of the 49ers-Patriots game on December 16th (1.2 million viewers) and a live boxing card on December 8th (216,000). To put that in perspective, ESPN2's coverage of the Crossfit Games gets 200,000 viewers.
NBCSN's studio shows have been even worse for the network than their lackluster slate of live events without the NHL. No studio show in December drew 100,000 viewers, and the Dan Patrick Show has consistently finished with under 50,000 viewers for their top airings... which is the hour-long "Best Of" episode in the afternoon. The Lights hasn't been able to crack 30,000 viewers, while NBC Sports Talk hasn't broke 50,000 viewers for an episode while falling as low as 24,000 viewers. Pro Football Talk and NFL Turning Point have done better for the network, regularly drawing over 50,000 viewers but just one airing of either show finished in the top 20 for the week in the month of December.
Despite having the NBC promotional machine behind it, NBC Sports Network had a rough 2012. If it weren't for their coverage of Olympic events in August, I'd wonder just how bad the cumulative ratings for the year are. I'm sure that the brass at NBC would love to wipe the slate clean of the remnants of the Outdoor Life Network and start fresh with a schedule loaded with live events and original programming, but that's proving much more difficult than originally imagined.
The peacock is in a tough place right now. If they want more people to start taking them seriously as a destination network, they need to transition away from the outdoors shows. However, in doing that, they're losing their consistently highest-rated programs, and could run the risk of falling further into the abyss.
It is this lack of consistency that has hurt NBCSN more than anything else. Yes, they've been unable to add meaningful sports content since NHL went on a lockout. However, what Comcast has failed to see is that they've had to program the channel 24/7 with whatever is connected with sports: talk shows, individual sports, etc..
They're so afraid of losing whatever ratings they had and, yet, they are already losing ratings. What do they have to lose at this point? Drop all that nonsense hunting and fishing shows. Drop all the gun-show nonsense. The leadership is showing no vision whatsoever! Cheap...I mean...Comcast has dropped the ball here!
ESPN, whatever you think of them...knows what business they're in. Sports, sports and more sports. They operate like a sports channel. They think like a sports channel. They operate as if the only thing that matters is sports...except when they go into this pop culture nonsense. What is NBCSN? Third-hand movie reruns, sprinkled with huntin', shootin', fishin', boring Erik Kuselias, mountains of infomercials and, occasionally some sports programming? Even CBSSN is doing a better job, and they're in a similar situation in terms of live events. At least they're trying to entice people by adding sports talk shows.
NBC only thinks they only need Pro Football Talk, which is fine except that there are already a ton of football talk shows out there. How about a Soccer-related talk show? Get ahead of the game by starting something before they start airing the EPL next season. Same with auto racing before they start the Formula 1 racing.
Where's the promotion for the Dan Patrick Show?
Why did they wait to now before announcing Michelle Beadle's new show? Are they going to promote that?
Why not use the late night hours to air sports reruns instead of the short-term money from infomercials?
NBCSN is clearly a joke of a channel right now.
As a frustrated sports programmer, I would be flipping out at 30 Rock right now. Oh man, they are hurting. They really need to ween out the hunting and fishing shows as I am sure there are other networks that would do better for them. At least really shrink the hours of air.
Pure and simple, one of the things NBC is desperate for is college team sports. A handful of Mountain West (though I like that conference) and a handful of Ivy/CAA can go so far. I thought they had the inside track for a huge Big East contract but that trail went bone dry. They DESPERATELY need a bigger college conference package. Throw in a small NBA, NASCAR, and if possible, an Major League Baseball deal? Okay, they made the soccer on television life very difficult for FOX's World Cup coverage later in the decade and ESPN but they need something to compliment that. For this television person, my fantasy players are sports television networks and not the players. I had hoped they had a chance on this BCS playoffs but it looks like ESPN is like a jealous husband with a hotwife and all over it.
The NHL brass has serioiusly dropped the puck in this one. They are pretty much forgotten by now compared to the bowls/NFL playoffs and NBA taking up alot of attention.
Say a prayer for the stress to leave the employees in the NBCSN office.
Won't things get better next year when the EPL contract kicks in? I don't know that NBC could have anticipated a lost NHL season.
Well, if and when the NHL returns that will help and they'll get much better ratings than usual when Formula One and the EPL debut this year. Not that either will get millions of viewers , but they will get a few hundred thousand guaranteed.
I am not surprised. They DESPERATELY NEED more than just the NHL and soccer. They need a viable college sports package, if not too late, a piece of the NBA and baseball pie, and perhaps the smaller NASCAR package. I am not surprised. Best of the Olympics can only go so far. I feel bad for them.
I really like NBCSN I watch ProFootball Talk and NBC Sports Talk on a daily basis and like them much more than ESPN. Hopefully this turns around because while they have little programming what they do have is high quality stuff with respected people.