TV Answer Man, I was watching Katie Ledecky swimming on the Olympic channel last Friday and I turned it on Saturday and it was gone. Please tell me it moved to another channel. If so, do you know which channel? We have Comcast Xfinity. — Susie, Arlington, Virginia.
Susie, the Olympic Channel has been a favorite destination spot for rabid fans of the Winter and Summer Games since it launched in 2017. However, NBC, which owned the channel, announced a few months that it would cease operations at the end of day on September 30. And so it did.
NBC is likely to move some of the Olympic Channel’s mix of documentaries, live events and highlights of past games to its streaming service, Peacock.
“In order to best reach our target audiences, we are re-evaluating 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,” the network said. “We will be announcing our exciting new plans for Olympic content in the fall.”
The shuttering of the Olympic Channel is another example of how difficult it is for a niche channel to survive in an era when pay TV subscribers are shrinking.
Cable and satellite operators, which are struggling to maintain profits, are less likely now to pay carriage fees to channels with narrow audiences, such as the Olympic Channel. Consequently, the Olympic Channel was available in less than 50 million homes, far less than other NBC-owned channels such as USA Network and Bravo.
In the TV biz, particularly these days, it’s all about the money. And the Olympic Channel simply wasn’t reaching enough people to generate significant advertising revenue, at least in NBC’s view.
Susie, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann