Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Reynolds of MultiChannel News,
Versus president Jamie Davis said the network’s distribution fallout with DirecTV is about positioning, not price.
Davis said network talks with the nation’s No. 1 DBS operator broke down over DirecTV wanting to remove it from some 6 million subscribers. Before the plug was pulled on Sept. 1, Versus, which had resided on the Total Choice Xtra package, counted 14 million DirecTV subs among its 75.5 million base.
“DirecTV wanted to take Versus away from 6 million subscribers who were receiving it for no additional cost. That was simply not acceptable for us. We hope to resolve things amicably, but that’s a non-starter.” Davis, noting that the network wasn’t called by the DBS operator late Monday that it was about to be “turned off,” said there haven’t been any discussions since the service was disconnected Tuesday morning.
When a three-year extension was announced with Versus in 2008, your commissioner was all smiles and claimed interest in the game would grow in the U.S. along with the Versus viewership.
Well, surprise, surprise, that looks to be yet another ruse in a long line of poppycock propaganda that insults the intelligence of hockey fans across the board whenever it’s shamelessly used.
It’s time the NHL got its hands dirty to ensure its investment with the Versus product pays off, rather than sitting idly by and telling the rest of us everything will be alright.
-Rory Boylen of The Hockey News. More from Rory on this topic plus what else, the Phoenix situation.
Comcast, the largest cable company in the U.S., owns Versus. They regularly try to charge us amounts well in excess of what is fair and reasonable to carry the programming they own. Their reason is obvious: they want to stifle competition from DIRECTV. Comcast’s unfair terms undermines DIRECTV’s ability to offer our customers the best possible value. If we simply accept these terms, we would have to absorb the unreasonable costs Comcast wants to charge us, and in turn we will be forced to increase the rates our customers pay. We do not want this to happen. In fact, Comcast has forced us to remove Versus because we would not accept the terms they demanded.
We are currently in contract negotiations and will continue to work with Comcast until the matter is resolved. Rest assured that we are making every effort to ensure that you continue to be satisfied with your service.
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
When asked Tuesday if the league was concerned enough to involve itself in the process, NHL spokesman Frank Brown simply pointed to the calender.
“Today is August 25. The next NHL telecast scheduled for VERSUS is Oct. 1,” he said.
The “what, me worry?” approach may seem a little cavalier to fans whose only access to hockey is through the netlet, but it’s also revealing about the nature of the dispute.
from fredfa, an AVS moderator,
On some of Versus’ most popular programming, NHL regular season games, the network averaged a little over 300,000 viewers last year. (Even early round Little League World Series games on ESPN outdraws that by a wide margin: over a million viewers watched the LLWS games Monday night.)
Two weeks ago, in the summer dodlrums, TNT AVERAGED 893,000 prime time viewers.
A&E (which charges about 25 cents a sub a month) averaged 690,000.
So given the marketplace, YOU assign a cash figure to what Versus is worth.
from Stuart Levine of Variety,
Versus may be off DirecTV as of Sept. 1.
Comcast-owned sports cabler that has made strides recently with the NHL playoffs and Tour de France is in a fight with DirecTV over an increase in carriage fees.
According to research firm SNL Kagan, Versus earns about 18¢ per subscriber and is asking for more.
The net is available in 75 million homes, up from 62 million three years ago.
Versus says it’s asking a fair market price for a network on the rise and is hoping a deal gets worked out by next week.
To see what other sports networks receive per subsciber, check out this post at AVS Forum.
As we know, most of these talks go down to the wire and then some. Hopefully for the sake of NHL fans who have Directv (me), this will be settled soon.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Make sure you’re not only free the night of Oct. 1, but that your television works properly. That night, the NHL returns in style to kick off the 2009-10 season, with four nationally televised games over three networks.
The NHL released its national television schedule Wednesday, and it begins with doubleheaders on Versus, TSN and CBC featuring Alex Ovechkin, Joe Sakic’s jersey retirement ceremony, Jay Bouwmeester’s first game as a Flame and the new-look Montreal Canadiens.
added 2:37pm, for more detailed information on this topic, make sure to check out Puck The Media.
from Tom Reed of Puck-rakers at the Columbus Dispatch, .
..the NHL still cannot cut a deal with its old broadcast partner, ESPN. The network helped the league gain popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It also stuck with the NHL in the early part of this decade when the game had become almost unwatchable due to the un-penalized obstruction.
Post-lockout hockey is an entertaining product, but the casual sports fan—the one the NHL needs to attract—isn’t programmed to search it out.
There are things I don’t like about ESPN, but it lends credibility to a sport. The league can tout its improved ratings on Versus, but it’s not a destination channel.
added 12:44pm, Sean Leahy of Puck Daddy has some suggestions for the NHL Network.
from Drew Remenda of the Seagate Broadcaster Blog,
Every once in a while we come under fire for our work. That comes with the job. Every one of us has been called on the carpet by our superiors for transgressions on the air. In those situations it’s usually because we were harsh and negative about the Sharks. We have never been told what to say but we are reminded that we have to strike a balance between journalistic objectivity and positive exuberance for all things teal. We are reminded we are not journalists. To be smart and don’t insult the intelligence of the fans but at the end of the day the people should know who you work for. The problem with that philosophy is that it’s hard to cover the parade when you are marching in the band.
Are you ready for the Battle of the Blades?
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org