NBC Sports Will Not Sponsor Gun Trade Show Next Year

Comcast-owned programmer cites business reasons for decision to not sponsor Las Vegas trade show in January

NBC Sports will not sponsor next year’s Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show — after several years of backing what organizers bill as the world’s largest gun-related trade show — citing business reasons.

An NBC Sports rep said, “Our level of sponsorship has varied each year, and this January we will not be sponsoring the show because it does not make business sense for us at this time.”

However, the rep added, “we will be at the show conducting business as we have for many years,” meaning that NBC execs will attend the Las Vegas confab to meet with clients.

NBC Sports’ decision to not sponsor the 2014 SHOT Show was reported Monday by Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog group. The last time NBC Sports did not sponsor the show was January 2011.

Separately, last week NBC Sports Network said it would cancel the “Under Wild Skies” hunting program, sponsored by the National Rifle Association. That came after a Sept. 22 episode in which NRA strategist Tony Makris (and host of the show) shot and killed an elephant — generating a tidal wave of criticism; NBCSN pulled the plug on “Under Wild Skies” after Makris compared his critics to Hitler.

The programmer’s sponsorship of the SHOT Show dates to Comcast-owned OLN (Outdoor Life Network), which focused on hunting and fishing. In 2006, Comcast changed the name of OLN to Versus; then in 2011, after Comcast acquired NBCUniversal, Versus was rebranded to become the NBC Sports Network. Since then, the channel has reduced its outdoor programming — which encompasses hunting and fishing shows — from 3,000 hours per year to 1,000, according to NBC Sports.

The SHOT Show is run by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which says it is the largest gun trade show in the world, attracting more than 1,600 exhibitors and 62,000 industry professionals from 100 countries. The 2014 show is skedded to run Jan. 14 to 17 at Las Vegas’ Sands Expo and Convention Center.

The SHOT Show is not open to the public. NSSF restricts access to shooting, hunting and outdoor trade professionals and commercial buyers and sellers of military, law enforcement and tactical weapons products and services.

NSSF did not respond to a request for comment.

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