NBC Sports

NBC Sports
NBC Sports Logo 2012.png
NBC Sports logo starting in 2012.
Division of: NBC
Key people: Mark Lazarus
Headquarters: GE Building
New York, New York
Major Broadcasting Contracts: College football
Olympic Games
PGA Tour
Triple Crown
Tour de France
Parent: NBCUniversal
Sister networks: NBC Sports Network(Versus)
Golf Channel
Universal Sports
Universal HD
Website: NBCSports.com
v · NBC television network. Formerly "a service of NBC News," it broadcasts a diverse array of programs, including the Olympic Games, the NFL, the NHL, MLS, Notre Dame football, the PGA Tour, the Triple Crown, and the French Open, among others. Other programming from outside producers is also presented on the network under the NBC Sports branding (such as coverage of the Ironman Triathlon).

Upon NBC's merger with Comcast, Comcast's own sports channels were combined under the NBC Sports division, in an arrangement known as the NBC Sports Group, which also comprises Versus (NBC Sports Network), Golf Channel, and the Comcast Sportsnet regional sports networks.



Early years

NBC Sports’ history can be traced back to May 17, 1939, when experimental television station W2XBS in New York (which would eventually become WNBC) televised an intercollegiate baseball game between Columbia and Princeton.[1] That year, W2XBS would also televise a boxing match between former heavyweight champion Max Baer and Lou Nova at Madison Square Garden,[2] a double header between the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers from Ebbets Field,[3] and a professional football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National Football League.[4] All were firsts for the respective sports. After the war, sporting events were staples of the nascent NBC Television Network. NBC televised the Army–Navy Game in 1945, hailed by sports writers at the time as “The Game of the Century.”[5] In 1946, the Cavalcade of Sports, a primetime boxing program, debuted. NBC would televise boxing, usually on Friday nights, until canceling the program in 1960. In 1947, NBC televised Games 1 & 5 of the World Series in the New York Metropolitan Area (CBS televised Games 3 & 4, while DuMont televised Games 2, 6, & 7).


Beginning in 1950, NBC Sports became the exclusive broadcaster of the World Series for a quarter century. In 1957, the network began televising the Game of the Week. Except for the 1965 season, NBC would televise Saturday afternoon games for the next three decades. The network expanded its sports lineup to include the NBA, college and professional football, as well as championship events. In 1952, NBC became the broadcast home of the Rose Bowl; a relationship that lasted for 37 years. In 1955, the network paid $100,000 to air the NFL Championship. An employee of NBC played a small part in “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” During overtime of the 1958 NFL Championship, NBC lost its feed from Yankee Stadium. A technician ran onto the field and stopped play long enough for the feed to be restored. The game was a watershed moment in the history of the NFL, establishing professional football as a nationally popular television property and beginning the upward surge of the league’s popularity.


CBS would take over the exclusive broadcast rights of the NFL, including the Championship Game, in 1964. The following year, NBC obtained the broadcast rights of the upstart American Football League. In 1966, the two leagues agreed to merge. As part of the merger, the two leagues’ champions would play a World Championship Game, eventually renamed the Super Bowl. Rather than award the broadcast rights of the game to either CBS or NBC, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle decided to have both networks televise the game. NBC commentators Curt Gowdy and Paul Christman called the game, while CBS produced the telecast that aired on both networks. In subsequent years, the Super Bowl would alternate between NBC and CBS. After the merger, NBC would broadcast games from the American Football Conference, composed of the former AFL teams plus three teams from the old NFL.


In 1971, at the behest of Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, NBC televised game 4 of the World Series in primetime. It was the first time a Series game had been played at night and the game attracted an audience of 61 million people. Starting the next season, all weekday Series games would be played at or after 8:00PM ET and NBC would begin broadcasting games on Monday nights, during the summer when reruns of other shows would otherwise be broadcast. On April 8, 1974, NBC televised a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves in which Hank Aaron of the Braves hit his 715th career home run, breaking the career mark previously held by Babe Ruth. In 1972, NBC became the broadcast home of the National Hockey League. (NBC previously televised the 1966 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which marked the first time hockey games were televised in color.) Among the innovations introduced by NBC was Peter Puck, an animated character in the form of a hockey puck, who explained the rules of hockey to unfamiliar television viewers. Also, the network requested that players wear names on the backs of their jerseys for the NBC Hockey Game of the Week. Nameplates would become standard in the NHL. Beginning in 1969, NBC televised college basketball, including the NCAA Tournament. In 1979, NBC televised the NCAA Championship that pitted future NBA rivals Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans defeated Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores 75-64. The game earned a 24.1 rating, the highest ever for a college basketball game.


By this time, NBC was mired in third place in the ratings. Sports remained a valuable television commodity for the network. In addition to the typically massive audience that watched the Super Bowl, NBC’s broadcasts of the 1978 and 1980 World Series each earned a 32.8 rating, with the former being watched by an average of 44 million people and the latter 42 million.[6] This powerful sports lineup, coupled with a resurgent primetime schedule featuring hit shows like The Cosby Show and Cheers, would put NBC back on top of the ratings by the middle of the decade. In December 1988, CBS obtained the exclusive broadcast rights of Major League Baseball, outbidding NBC and ABC.[7] After 43 years, NBC’s tenure as the home of baseball came to an end. In 1989, former ABC Sports and Saturday Night Live producer Dick Ebersol became president of NBC Sports. Ebersol’s early tenure at NBC Sports was highlighted by a string of sports-property acquisitions and renewals, including the Olympics, NFL, NBA, & Notre Dame football.


After CBS had wrested baseball from NBC, the latter obtained the broadcast rights of the National Basketball Association in a four-year, $600 million deal.[8] The '90s would be an era of unprecedented popularity for the NBA, spearheaded by the Chicago Bulls dynasty of Michael Jordan. In 1991, NBC obtained the rights to Notre Dame home games, the first time an individual college football team had its own broadcast agreement.[9]

In 1994, after a four year hiatus, Major League Baseball returned to NBC as part of a new joint-venture with ABC called The Baseball Network, a broadcast arrangement where the league produced its own telecasts and split advertising revenue with NBC and ABC.[10] The two networks would televise regional games on Friday and Saturday nights, and would alternate coverage of the All Star Game, the newly created Division Series, League Championship Series, and World Series. The 1994 Major League Baseball strike disrupted the plan, which proved unpopular with fans, and it was abandoned after the 1995 season. NBC would continue broadcasting baseball, albeit on a reduced basis. It was during this period, with the broadcast rights of the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and the Olympics, that the network adopted the mantle of “America’s Sports Leader.”

During the 1995-96 television season, for the only time in history, the World Series, Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and Summer Olympics were telecast by the same network. It was following this run in 1996 that The Sporting News named Ebersol the Most Powerful Person in Sports.[11] In 1998, CBS would take over the AFC rights from NBC, ending the network’s 38-year tenure with the NFL. CBS had previously lost the NFC rights to upstart network Fox, and was by that point struggling in the ratings.


In 2000, NBC declined to renew its broadcast agreement with Major League Baseball. In 2002, it was additionally outbid by ESPN and ABC for the NBA's next broadcast deal, ending the league's twelve year run on NBC.

During this era, NBC experimented with broadcasting emerging sports. In 2001, the network partnered with the World Wrestling Federation to establish the XFL — a new football league which introduced modified rules and debuted to tremendous, but short-lived fanfare, only lasting one season. In 2003, NBC obtained the broadcast rights and a minority interest in the Arena Football League. The network televised weekly games on a regional basis, as well as the entire playoffs. The deal lasted four years, after which the league and NBC parted ways.

Beginning with the 1999 Pennzoil 400, NBC began its foray into NASCAR. NBC, along with Fox, FX, and TNT, obtained the broadcast rights of the top two series in a six-year deal, beginning in 2001. NBC televised the second half of the season and alternated coverage of the Daytona 500 with Fox. NBC announced in December 2005 that it would not renew its agreement. In 2001, NBC obtained the broadcast rights to horse racing's Triple Crown in a five year deal.

In 2004, NBC reached a broadcast agreement with the NHL. The revenue-sharing deal called for the two sides to split advertising revenue after the network recouped expenses. NBC televised regular season games at first on Saturday afternoons before moving the telecast to Sundays, Saturday and Sunday afternoon playoff games, and up to five games of the Stanley Cup Final. Additionally in 2008, NBC broadcast the first Winter Classic, an outdoor NHL game played on New Year's Day at Ralph Wilson Stadium, a success in attendance and television ratings. The following year's Winter Classic would become the most-watched regular season game in 34 years.[12] In addition to this regular season success, Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final was watched by an average of 8 million viewers, the most for an NHL game in 36 years.[13]

The NFL also returned to NBC in 2006 after a eight year hiatus, broadcasting the league's new flagship Sunday Night Football game, along with select post-season games and Super Bowls XLIII and XLVI.

2011: Comcast Merger and the NBC Sports Network

In January 2011, Comcast closed its acquisition of a majority share in NBC Universal. As a result of the merger, the operations of Comcast's existing sports networks, such as Golf Channel and Versus, were merged into a new division known as the NBC Sports Group. NBC Sports' senior vice president Mike McCarley additionally became Golf Channel's new head.[14] NBC Sports' golf production unit was merged with Golf Channel, along with NBC's on-air staff, and that unit is now known under the branding of Golf Channel on NBC.[15]

The merger also helped influence an extension of NBC Sports' contract with the NHL; the 10-year deal valued at close to $2 billion dollars covers rights for both NBC and Versus, introduces a new primetime "Black Friday" game, and national coverage for every game in the Stanley Cup playoffs.[16]

On July 3, 2011, ESPN obtained the exclusive broadcast rights of Wimbledon, in a 12-year deal. NBC had televised The Championships since 1969.[17]

On August 10, 2011, Major League Soccer signed a three-year deal with NBC to broadcast MLS matches on both the main NBC network and the NBC Sports Network, which will begin with the 2012 season.[18]

NBC Sports Network logo

As part of the merger, it was also revealed that Versus and the existing Comcast SportsNet regional sports networks would also be re-launched under the NBC Sports banner within the year.[19][20] The new name for Versus as of the beginning of 2012, the NBC Sports Network, was revealed on August 1, 2011. NBC Sports will adopt a new logo as well. The re-launch will coincide with multiple major events in January to be aired on NBC, where the newly re-launched network will be aggressively promoted. Personnel from NBC Sports will be shared between the two channels, and the network's telecasts will be produced in a similar style to those aired by NBC.[21]

However, despite now being a part of NBC Sports, and reports suggesting that this would occur[19], the Comcast SportsNet channels will not be re-branded under the NBC name, as was originally planned. However, they will eventually use graphics based on those used by NBC Sports.[22].


In 1964, NBC televised the Summer Olympics in Tokyo; in 1972, NBC televised the Winter Games for the first time. 1980 would prove to be a stinging disappointment for the network. After contentious negotiations, NBC won the broadcast rights to the Games in Moscow. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the United States and 64 other countries boycotted. NBC substantially scaled back its coverage and lost heavily in advertising revenue. In 1988, NBC televised the Summer Olympics in Seoul. Since then, it has become “America’s Olympic Network,” televising every Summer Olympic Games since Seoul, as well as the Winter Games in 2002, 2006, and 2010. NBC has aired 12 Summer and Winter Olympics, more than any other network and the Games have become an integral part of the network. In 1998, Ebersol was named president of NBC Sports and Olympics. Recently, the 2010 Games in Vancouver were watched by a total of 190 million viewers,[23] including 27.6 million viewers of the Gold Medal Game in men’s hockey.[24]

Programs throughout the years

Current programs

Additional programming

In 2011, NBC reaired Versus' coverage of the eighth stage of the Tour de France.

Former programs

Former logo (1989-2011)

Notable NBC personalities

Notable Telemundo personalities

  • Andres Cantor
  • Karim Mendiburu
  • Edgar Lopez
  • Leti Coo
  • Jessie Losada
  • Alejandro Blanco
  • Rene Giraldo

Main competitors


  1. ^ 1939: The first baseball game on television was broadcast..., Chicago Tribune, May 17, 2005
  2. ^ "From the first game to 3D: Important developments in the history of sports on television". Orlando Sentinel. March 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ New York Times – 1939
  4. ^ Nfl: 1920-1994, Orlando Sentinel, September 2, 1994
  5. ^ Army-Navy Game timeline
  6. ^ World Series ratings
  7. ^ New York Times December 15, 1988
  8. ^ NBC obtains NBA rights
  9. ^ NBC obtains Notre Dame rights
  10. ^ The Baseball Network
  11. ^ The Sporting News: Most Powerful 100, Sporting News, December 30, 1996
  12. ^ ‘Winter Classic” Most Viewed Regular Season NHL Game in 34 Years,’ TVBytheNumbers, January 13, 2009
  13. ^ Game 7 most watched in 36 years
  14. ^ Renyolds, Mike. "McCarley To Head Golf Channel, Davis Out At Versus In NBC Sports Group Reorg: Sources". Multichannel News. http://www.multichannel.com/article/463313-McCarley_To_Head_Golf_Channel_Davis_Out_At_Versus_In_NBC_Sports_Group_Reorg_Sources.php. Retrieved 2 February 2011. 
  15. ^ Williams, Jim. "Jim Williams: Gold coverage has new look". Washington Examiner. http://washingtonexaminer.com/sports/golf/2011/02/jim-williams-golf-coverage-has-new-look. 
  16. ^ AP (19 April 2011). "NHL reaches new television deal to remain on NBC, Versus". SI.com. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/hockey/nhl/04/19/tv-contract.ap/index.html?eref=sihp. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  17. ^ ESPNLosAngeles.com (July 5, 2011). "ESPN acquires exclusive Wimbledon rights". ESPNLosAngeles.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/news/story?id=6739076. Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  18. ^ http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2011/08/10/mls-nbc-sports-agree-three-year-broadcast-deal
  19. ^ a b Goetzl, David (May 4, 2011). "NBC Sports Brand Going Local". MediaPost Publications. http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=149913&nid=126425. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  20. ^ Friedman, Wayne (May 9, 2011). "NBC Steps Up Branding For Comcast Sports Nets". MediaPost Publications. http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=150158. Retrieved May 10, 2011. 
  21. ^ Fernadez, Bob. "Goodbye Versus, hello NBC Sports Network". Philly.com. http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/126495098.html. Retrieved 1 August 2011. 
  22. ^ Ourand, John. "SBJ: Exit Versus, enter the NBC Sports Network". The Sporting News. http://aol.sportingnews.com/nhl/story/2011-08-01/sbj-exit-versus-enter-the-nbc-sports-network. Retrieved 2 August 2011. 
  23. ^ "NBC's Final Medal Count: 190 Million Olympic Viewers". Multichannel News. March 1, 2010. 
  24. ^ "Olympic Hockey Gold Medal Game Viewed by Most in U.S. Since ’80". Business Week. March 1, 2010. 
  25. ^ NBC did not provide live event coverage due to the US-led boycott.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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