In news that we’ve been discussing for at least six (!) years, CSN Philly will officially be rebranded as “NBC Sports Philadelphia” before the upcoming hockey season. The move, which will apply to the television channel, the website and also The Comcast Network, will take effect on October 2.
The 2017-18 Flyers season begins October 4.
TCN will be renamed “NBC Sports Philadelphia+” and will still carry a number of Flyers and 76ers games throughout the year. The NBC Sports rebranding is happening across the country with CSN networks. CSN Mid-Atlantic will be renamed as NBC Sports Washington, CSN New England will become NBC Sports Boston, and the same changes will happen with CSN Chicago and CSN Northwest. CSN already rebranded its two California stations last year.
In terms of the content, nothing is really expected to change. CSN Philly has already been tightly connected with NBC 10 here in the city, with the two networks sharing resources and reporting when applicable. That will continue. Programming isn’t expected to change -- at least not in the short-term. We still expect that the national NBC Sports Network will continue to pick up local NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcasts when possible as well.
It’s certainly been a year of change at CSN Philly / NBC Sports Philadelphia. Long-time Flyers reporter Tim Panaccio was let go by the network in June, in addition to various other changes in terms of their on-air talent: Sixers reporter Dei Lynam, Phillies reporter Leslie Gudel and anchor Neil Hartman have all been let go this year. This is happening in other markets as well -- just this week, Capitals reporter Jill Sorenson was let go by CSN Mid-Atlantic, for example.
As we wrote back in June:
This is happening all over sports media, particularly with companies that have a ton of overhead with expensive broadcast rights and a shifting television market driving their business. ESPN laid off their entire damn hockey department earlier this year (plus lots of others), and just this week, Fox Sports decided to cut their entire digital writing team in favor of propping up clowns like Skip Bayless and Jason Whitlock on FoxSports.com.
CSN isn’t a national broadcaster, but they still pay for broadcast rights in local markets (like Philly) across the country. It’s a similar trend. They’re losing subscribers, and thus money, and they can’t offset those losses with their digital product.
In most cases, it’s also because that digital product isn’t very good. The level of analysis of the game -- particularly hockey, which is poorly covered in even the “good” American markets -- you’ll get from a CSN or a traditional newspaper these days pales in comparison to what you can get elsewhere online. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Rebranding to NBC Sports might not mean much in reality, but it’s certainly another signal that things are in flux with the channel that broadcasts Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games.
NBC SPORTS REGIONAL NETWORKS TO ALIGN CSN & TCN PROPERTIES UNDER ‘NBC SPORTS’ BRAND
Seven Networks to Join NBC Sports Bay Area & NBC Sports California to Complete Brand Evolution on October 2
STAMFORD, Conn. – August 23, 2017 – NBC Sports Regional Networks will align the remainder of its five CSN-branded networks, as well as two TCNs, on October 2. The new names will incorporate “NBC Sports” with each of the networks’ regional designations. The announcement was made today by David Preschlack, President, NBC Sports Regional Networks and NBC Sports Group Platform and Content Strategy.
“We’re excited to complete the brand evolution of our remaining RSNs, which will now include the iconic NBC Sports name on all of our networks,” said Preschlack. “This development is a reaffirmation of our continued commitment to provide the best, most compelling local sports coverage to our fans across the country.”
The brand evolution will not impact the scheduled games, pre- and post-game shows, and other programming currently available on these networks.
CSN Chicago, CSN Northwest and CSN Philadelphia will combine “NBC Sports” with their current regional designations: NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Northwest and NBC Sports Philadelphia. TCN will transition toNBC Sports Philadelphia +, and continue to house separate material produced by NBC Sports Philadelphia.
CSN Mid-Atlantic, TCN Mid-Atlantic and CSN New England will also adopt the city names used by their primary team partners, becoming NBC Sports Washington, NBC Sports Washington + and NBC Sports Boston, respectively.
The brand progression of the NBC Sports Regional Networks, which began in April with NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California, will be complete in advance of the 2017-18 NHL and NBA regular seasons. New York-based SNY will retain its name.
In addition to new names, the NBC Sports Regional Networks will feature enhanced logos and graphics. They will continue to feature the NBC Peacock, which was first integrated into the networks’ logos in 2012, the year after the formation of NBC Sports Group.
Many NBC Sports production, programming elements and on-air talent have been incorporated on the RSNs since the Comcast-NBCUniversal acquisition in 2011, much like NBCSN and Golf Channel. In addition to the integration of the NBC Peacock in 2012, “Comcast SportsNet” changed to “CSN” in 2016. Similarly, several NBC Sports Regional Networks collaborate with NBC Owned Television Stations in their respective markets on content and other initiatives.