Perhaps to give a boost to the fledgling sports channel, or at least to locate it more closely within the channel lineup to similar channels like the ESPN family of networks, NFL Network, MLB Network, and NHL Network, satellite TV provider DIRECTV will be moving the NBC Sports Network to channel 220 from its current place much further up the dial at channel 603. The change will occur in the weeks to come, with DIRECTV subscribers notified by message when the change has occurred.
Until the 2012 London Olympics, NBC Sports Network was mostly known as the channel that used to be called Versus and OLN (Outdoor Life Network), where NHL hockey ended up after the 2004-2005 lockout killed ESPN’s interest in airing the sport. The Olympics gave NBC Sports Network by far its most consistently high ratings, as the cable channel aired sports all throughout the day alongside other NBC-owned channels like CNBC, Bravo and MSNBC.
The channel is still not easily found in some cable and satellite systems, because it is not located in the channel guide near other similar channels. This move from channel 603, where it was surrounded by TVG, which shows only horse races and paid programming, and Pursuit, a channel dedicated to fishing and hunting. It will now be the final channel in DIRECTV’s early-200s sports block, following after the Tennis Channel, Golf Channel, and NBA Network. NBC Sports Network will definitely need the boost as it is possible the channel’s flagship programming, NHL on NBC coverage, will be cancelled or delayed this year due to the labor differences and impending lockout between the NHL owners and the NHL players.
NBC Sports Network’s programming thus far has focuses on live events, hockey and the Olympics, and in doing so has been good in providing competition for the empire of ESPN and its related channels. To continue to compete, NBC Sports Network needs to be a recognizable, easy-to-find channel. Now, on DIRECTV, it will be.