American fans of English and European club rugby will need to change the channel. In exchange, they could be getting more live rugby through their cable package.
NBC, which owns the American broadcasting and streaming rights for the European Rugby Champions Cup, the English Premiership, and the Six Nations, shuttered NBCSN at the end of 2021. While other sports, including NASCAR and the English Premier League, are shifting to USA Network, the company appears to be shifting its rugby portfolio to CNBC.
While it initially looks like a step back, it could supply more live rugby in American households. A quick check of the CNBC schedule shows a pair of live broadcasts over the next two Saturdays. Compare this to NBCSN where rugby usually competed with the English Premier League for live time slots and ended up on tape delay or relegated to Peacock completely. The schedule also lists a Sunday afternoon game in a couple weeks that will be on tape delay. All content that is not available on CNBC live will remain available live on Peacock Premium.
Its unclear if CNBC will be making this a staple of its programing going forward. Live rugby without fighting paywall can grow a new generation of fans in the States. If they take up the Six Nations live in its entirety, it would be an even bigger push into the American sports environment.