NBC Sports Network: Rising in the Ranks

NBC Sports Network

The NBC Sports Network is a well-known digital cable and satellite television channel showcasing 24/7 sports coverage. As the name suggests, it is property of NBC Universal, and was launched in 1995. Since then, it’s undergone a few name changes as well. Initially known as the Outdoor Life Network, NBC later changed the name to Versus, and then again to NBC Sports.

NBC Sports Network Availability

The NBC Sports Network, like all non-basic channels, is only available through various digital or satellite TV packages. NBC Sports can also be accessed via their website, NBCSports.com, which is great for anyone who doesn’t want to park themselves in front of the television, or anyone who can’t reach their TV set, but has access to a computer or tablet. The network allows you to not only watch many live events, but you can also view replays of past shows and important game highlights.

They have an Android application for your phone or tablet. With this app, you have access to more than 1,000 live events — for free — and will even push you reminders for event start times. This is handy if you’re on the go and like to keep up on the latest news from a game. Unfortunately, the app only has an average of a 2-star rating, with complaints voicing problems about streaming, and a lack of updates, or good footage to view.

iTunes has its own version of this app, and its reviews fare about the same, averaging between 2 and 3 stars. All the complaints seem to be of a similar nature to the Android app.

What the NBC Sports Network Airs

Like any good sports channel, the network offers all the sports you would expect, and then some. Football, hockey, basketball, baseball, soccer, golf, and more all make up the sports lineup. Their website caters to all sports fans, so even if you miss a show, you can still keep up to date with scores, stats, player news, and more. Of course, one of NBC Sports’ biggest brags is its coverage of the Tour de France, which they’ve aired since 1999. Not to mention college football and basketball, and horse race coverage.

NBC Sports NetworkThe network also has its own original programming, like NBC SportsTalk and CNBC Sports Biz. Costas Tonight is a talk show hosted by Bob Costas, and features interviews, specials, recaps, reviews, and more — all centered around sports. The ‘Lights (as in, the highlights; clever, huh?) is a morning show consisting of video loops around 20-minutes in length showing sports highlights, sans on-camera personalities.

Sporting events aren’t all that’s offered, though. Since NBC Sports began its life as the Outdoor Life Network, featuring primarily programming on hunting, fishing, and outdoor adventure programs, it would make sense that they still air shows focused around that. Shows such as Shark Hunters, an extreme fishing show that premiered in July 2013, Americana Outdoors, or — until recently — Under Wild Skies. Speaking of which…

NBC Sports Network Under Fire

In September of 2013, NBC Sports unintentionally offended many viewers. Under Wild Skies was an outdoor show featuring National Rifle Association public relations strategist Tony Makris, and centered around the exploration of Africa and hunting large game. NBC Sports aired this show as a “time buy,” meaning NBC did not produce or make the show, but rather purchased it in order to air it. The show is, in fact, sponsored by the NRA.

But after a September episode aired wherein the show’s host shot an elephant in the face, the public outcry sparked NBC Sports Network to quickly promise not to air the episode anymore, but would continue to air future episodes seeing as the elephant hunt was (at the time) legal in that part of Africa. But to add insult to injury, Tony Makris made a derogatory comment comparing his critics to Adolph Hitler. That, apparently, was not something NBC was willing to overlook, because Under Wild Skies was promptly canceled.

NBC Sports Network came under fire before, too, with their apparent gun support after they sponsored the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and Conference (the SHOT Show) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Though from what I’ve seen, this wasn’t something new, since NBC has been a sponsor for a few years. It’s very likely that many viewers are more sensitive where the subject of guns is concerned after some of the gun-related tragedies the country has suffered over the past few years.

Despite its gun and “Under Wild Skies” hiccups, NBC Sports is hanging in there and doing very well. While ESPN and Fox Sports have been seeing painful declines in ratings, NBC Sports Network has been seeing the opposite and has, in fact, had the largest improvement year-to-year of nearly all sports networks over the past few years.

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