NBCSN logo

NBCSN is an American pay television channel that is owned by the NBC Sports Group division of NBCUniversal. It originally launched on July 1, 1995, as the Outdoor Life Network (OLN), which was dedicated to programming primarily involving fishing, hunting, outdoor adventure programs, and outdoor sports. By the turn of the 21st century, OLN became better known for its extensive coverage of the Tour de France but eventually began covering more "mainstream" sporting events, resulting in its relaunch as Versus in September 2006.

In 2011, Comcast, the original owner of the network, acquired a majority stake in NBC Universal. As a result, Comcast merged the operations of its pay channels with those of NBC. In particular, it aligned the operation of its sports channels with NBC's sports division, NBC Sports. On January 2, 2012, Versus was rebranded as the NBC Sports Network (on-air branding later shortened to NBCSN) to reflect these changes. As of September 15, 2014, the majority of NBC Sports' operations, including NBCSN, is based in facilities in Stamford, Connecticut.

As of February 2015, NBCSN is available to approximately 81,578,000 pay television households (70.1% of households with television) in the United States.[1]


OLN and the NHLEdit

In May 2005, ESPN rejected a $60 million offer to renew its broadcasting contract with the National Hockey League into the 2005-06 NHL season, and the league rejected its alternate proposal for a revenue sharing agreement similar to the one it had established with NBC. With the NFL also shopping a new late-season package of Thursday and Saturday night games to potential broadcasters, speculation began to surface that Comcast would bid on the new NHL contract as its first step to transforming OLN into a mainstream sports channel that could compete with ESPN.[2] Comcast had already been involved in NHL broadcasting; at the time, it owned majority control of the Philadelphia Flyers, and four Comcast SportsNet regional sports networks.[3] In August 2005, ESPN declined to match Comcast's offer, and OLN acquired pay television rights to the NHL beginning in the 2005–2006 season in a three-year deal worth close to $200 million. The new deal would include 58 regular season games on Monday and Tuesday nights, coverage of the NHL All-Star Game, conference finals, and the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.[3] With the help of its new NHL package, by June 2006, OLN had now reached 75 million subscribers. However, due in part to OLN's lesser carriage in comparison to ESPN, the NHL's ratings that season had suffered in comparison.[4]

As VersusEdit

Versus logo

In April 2006, Comcast announced that it would be renaming Outdoor Life Network to Versus in the fall of 2006. As the network had shifted beyond simply "outdoor" programming, the name "Versus" was intended to represent the common element of competition within its lineup.[5] OLN's re-launch as Versus occurred on September 25, 2006.

On January 28, 2008, Versus and the NHL extended their television contract through the 2010–11 season.[6] In June 2008, operations were moved from Stamford, Connecticut, to Comcast's headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[7] [8][9]

Merger with NBC SportsEdit

In February 2011, Comcast acquired a majority stake in NBC Universal, and merged its content operations into the company. As part of the acquisition, Versus and Comcast's other sports channels began to be integrated into the NBC Sports division. Coinciding with the merger, President Jamie Davis was replaced by Comcast Sports Group president Jon Litner. Litner began to oversee the channel, in addition to his other duties following the Comcast takeover.[10]

Relaunch as the NBC Sports Network / NBCSNEdit

NBC Sports Network logo

The logo using the full “NBC Sports Network” name, used from 2012 to just before the 2014 Winter Olympics.

In April 2011, NBC Sports and Versus announced they had reached a ten-year extension to their television contract with the National Hockey League worth nearly $2 billion over the life of the contract. As part of the announcement, Dick Ebersol, the former chairman of NBC Sports, said that Versus would be renamed "within 90 days" in order to reflect the synergy resulting from the merger.[11] However, the announcement of a new name did not come until August 1, 2011, when Comcast announced that Versus would be relaunched as the NBC Sports Network[12] on January 1, 2012. The relaunch coincided with NBC's coverage of the NHL Winter Classic, which took place on the same day.[13]

Notable personalitiesEdit

Announcers, reporters and hostsEdit



Event coverageEdit



Past carriage disputesEdit

At the beginning of September 2009, DirecTV pulled Versus from its lineup, as it was unable to reach terms on a rate increase demanded by Comcast. In public statements (including a message shown on the channel which formerly carried Versus), DirecTV scolded Comcast for its "unfair and outrageous demands", and considered the company to be "simply piggish" in its demands for higher rates, as it described Versus as "a paid programming and infomercial channel with occasional sporting events."[17] On March 15, 2010, an agreement was reached between the two sides and Versus returned to DirecTV's lineup. The channel was returned to its original package on the service, Choice Xtra.[18] The network has since drastically reduced its paid programming blocks to only three-four hours deep in late night under NBC management (between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. Eastern time), and that remaining paid programming itself is now often subject to pre-emption with live sports from Asia or Australia, and is removed wholly during Olympic coverage.

High definitionEdit

A 1080i high definition feed of the network was launched in January 2007. Initially, its HD feed was shared with sister network Golf Channel in an arrangement marketed as Versus/Golf HD; Golf Channel programming was broadcast during the daytime hours, and Versus programming was broadcast during the evening and primetime hours with some schedule variation during Tour de France coverage. The shared channel was replaced by individual HD feeds for both channels in December 2008.[19]

In May 2013, the network's standard definition feed was converted to a widescreen presentation with letterboxing to duplicate the display seen on the high definition feed in line with their competitor's presentations of their SD channels.


  1. Seidman, Robert (February 22, 2015). List of how many homes each cable network is in as of February 2015. TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. Retrieved on March 14, 2015.
  2. Sandomir, Richard. "With Armstrong Out, N.H.L. May Be in at OLN", The New York Times, July 28, 2005. Retrieved on January 2, 2012. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rovell, Darren. "ESPN decides not to match Comcast's offer",, August 18, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-10-15. 
  4. "NHL's Strong Comeback Marred by Poor TV Ratings", The Washington Post, June 5, 2006. Retrieved on May 7, 2012. 
  5. "OLN Network getting new name", Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved on May 7, 2012. 
  6. "NHL, Versus extend TV contract by 3 Years",, January 22, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-04-06. 
  7. "Time Warner Cable Closing Conn. Offices",, August 6, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-07. 
  8. "Solid Partnerships",, August 7, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-07. 
  9. WSORR Oshkosh Races Garner More National TV. Motorsports Journal. Retrieved on February 10, 2013.
  10. Renyolds, Mike. McCarley To Head Golf Channel, Davis Out at Versus in NBC Sports Group Reorg: Sources. Multichannel News. Retrieved on February 2, 2011.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Condor, Bob (April 19, 2011). NHL, NBC sign record-setting 10-year TV deal. NHL. Retrieved on July 20, 2011.
  12. Looking Back at NBC Sports Network's Lack of Growth. (27 February 2013). Retrieved on 28 February 2013.
  13. Fernadez, Bob. Goodbye Versus, hello NBC Sports Network. Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved on August 1, 2011.
  14. NBC Sports Group Launches First-Ever College Hockey Coverage with 16 Games on NBC Sports Network This Season - Ratings. Retrieved on 2014-06-28.
  15. Lockout protection: NBCSN beefs up college hockey coverage. Retrieved on 2014-06-28.
  16. NBCSN will replace the Dan Patrick Show with a PFT Live replay and an hour of Sky Sports News (en-US) (2019-02-26).
  17. Hiestand, Michael. "Versus does disappearing act after dispute with DirecTV", USA Today, September 1, 2009. Retrieved on January 3, 2012. 
  18. DIRECTV and VERSUS Reach Carriage Agreement; Sports Net Returns to DIRECTV Lineup Today Market Watch March 15, 2010
  19. Moss, Linda. Comcast To Launch Three HD Nets, Including E!. Multichannel News. Retrieved on August 20, 2011.

External linksEdit

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