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VERSUS Sticks With One Game

from Steve Lepore of Puck The Media,

It is everything that we imagine as hockey fans: playoff overtime. This is one of the things that is undeniably appealing about the sport, even to someone who has no understanding of it. The game becomes simple: score a goal, the game is over. If there are no goals, the game goes on … and on, and on, and on. Even as games head into second, third and potentially fourth overtimes, the game remains fascinating, a study in attrition, in just how much energy the best athletes on earth can expend until one of them slows down just enough to let another of them get the break they need to win it.

So, it is without surprise that – despite showing only the third period before it – VERSUS’ “Joined in Progress” broadcast of Rangers/Capitals from Comcast Sportsnet was followed into overtime, preempting in every market aside from New York and Washington, the entire first period of the Chicago/Vancouver back-end of the doubleheader, which featured original VERSUS production. Anyone outside of those two markets, and obviously Chicago, missed the only two goals scored of the game, both in the first period from Vancouver.


The Detroit/Phoenix game was blacked out on VERSUS in the two markets, rightfully so, but I did receive the Caps/Rangers game on the Versus Alternate Channel 604 (-1) via Directv.  When the Wings game was over, the regular VERSUS channel switched to the Caps/Rangers so so I was getting the same game on both channels.  Somehow, they need to make the switch in the future if this comes up again.

I was able to watch the Canucks/Blackhawks via CBC here in Detroit, but not many US viewers are able to receive CBC.

Filed in: NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, d, | KK Hockey | Permalink


NHLJeff's avatar

Fans in Chicago did not miss the beginning of the Hawks game if they didn’t want to, as it was also on local TV.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Denver on 04/14/11 at 01:13 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I can’t fathom too many people had problems seeing a playoff OT vs seeing a 1st period of a west coast game.

Posted by Primis on 04/14/11 at 01:16 PM ET

Paul's avatar

I can’t fathom too many people had problems seeing a playoff OT vs seeing a 1st period of a west coast game.

Posted by Primis on 04/14/11 at 11:16 AM ET

I am not saying to do that, but how about using the alternate channel thay may systems have to show the late game until the OT game is finished?

That way, everybody is happy.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 04/14/11 at 01:19 PM ET

phillyd's avatar

This is just more BS moaning about Versus. I’d rather have Versus stick with the OT game as “In-progress” then say, well, it’s 10 o’clock so we’re switching over to the other game and give you updates. I think what it really says is they need to get more programming to justify a VS2 (I should go trademark this) for these situations, like what ESPN does with its family of networks.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 04/14/11 at 01:20 PM ET

phillyd's avatar

Paul, what is on the alternate channel during normal periods? Is it just other Versus programming or is it off-air?

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 04/14/11 at 01:22 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I know Paul, but most systems won’t have that alternate channel anyways so it won’t help a lot of viewers.  The alt channels are only available on dishes basically.

Posted by Primis on 04/14/11 at 01:22 PM ET

Paul's avatar

phillyd, I don’t think you understand.  Some carriers have an alternate channel for VERSUS, which was also showing the Rangers game as well as the regular VERSUS channel.

Why not have a different game on the two channels?

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 04/14/11 at 01:23 PM ET

Paul's avatar

phillyd, Off the air.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 04/14/11 at 01:25 PM ET

phillyd's avatar

Ah, ok. Kind of like the RedZone channel for the NFL Network then.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 04/14/11 at 01:27 PM ET


The Rangers-Capitals game was available for Center Ice viewers already.  We pay for that.  You’re supposed to be able to see every NHL playoff game for the premium you’re paying.

Versus went with either A) compelling television because it was OT or B) the better bet on ratings because of NY and DC tv markets… but even that doesn’t make sense because those games were carried regionally so anyone in DC or NY was watching on a channel other than Versus.

Why should I pay for Center Ice if I’m not going to get all my games?  Center Ice should make sure they carry a CBC feed of the game at the least if Versus is going to pull these sorts of shenanigans.

Posted by Mike Mc from Philadelphia Suburbs on 04/14/11 at 01:53 PM ET


I agree that sticking with the OT game was the right choice. The problem is the other game should have been available too. The NHL has NHLCI and I still can’t figure out why the NHL won’t use THEIR OWN NETWORK!!! All they need to do is put a scrolling banner on Versus to direct viewers who wanted to watch the Hawks Canucks game to switch channels.

It is stunning to me that no one at the NHL wouldn’t have thought of this potential problem and prepared for it. If they did think of it but didn’t prepare for it that is much worse and displays real contempt for hockey fans. If the NHL wants to be taken seriously they need to prepare for this sort of situation.

For anyone who may think this is unfair, ask yourself if the NBA would allow this to happen?

Posted by leafsfan1967 on 04/14/11 at 02:06 PM ET


Of course they stuck with the OT.  Why on EARTH would they not?

If I was watching the Rangers/Caps game and they cut away from OT to show Chicago/Vancouver I would be FURIOUS.

Posted by Garth on 04/14/11 at 02:15 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

Every year the Cleveland NBC affiliate preempts a Wings playoff game to run Cleveland Indians baseball. Since NBC has exclusive rights to broadcast, the game is not on center ice. The Indians game is on Fox Sports, MLB pay-per-view and the NBC affiliate. We have to drive out of the Cleveland market to watch the wings game at a sports bar at noon. It sucks.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 04/14/11 at 02:16 PM ET


Why should I pay for Center Ice if I’m not going to get all my games?  Center Ice should make sure they carry a CBC feed of the game at the least if Versus is going to pull these sorts of shenanigans.

Posted by Mike Mc from Philadelphia Suburbs on 04/14/11 at 11:53 AM ET

Agreed. I bought the NHL GameCenter package this year so that I could watch games on my computer, since I live on the West Coast and most of the regular season games I am interested in (Red Wings) start at 4 or 4:30PM here. I’m not sure I’ll invest in the package again, as all games on Versus, NBC and NHL network are blacked out on GameCenter. This amounted to something like 30 Red Wings’ games that were blacked out during the regular season, versus something like 1 for teams like Nashville and Atlanta. Obviously it’ll be even worse during the playoffs, none of the games from series I am most interested in will be on GameCenter.

Posted by apid on 04/14/11 at 02:16 PM ET

Paul's avatar

You are not getting it Garth.  Some carriers have an alternate VERSUS channel and they were showing the same game on that too, along with it being on the regular VERSUS channel.

Why not switch to the Nucks game?

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 04/14/11 at 02:20 PM ET

Ajax19's avatar


I see where you are coming from.  If there is a Versus 2 or whatever, then, yes, they absolutely should have started to air the Canucks/Blackhawkws game on the alternative channel and had some ticker message across the bottom of the OT game saying where people could find it.

ESPN does this all of the time.  If a game runs late for whatever reason, they will often start airing the game that is being pre-empted on ESPN News or ESPN Classic or whatever.  It makes total sense and it is exactly what should be done in these instances.

Versus was correct in sticking with the OT game on the main channel, but absolutely should have started the other game on their B Channel.

I don’t think my Comcast has a second Versus channel.  If it does, I am not aware of it.

Posted by Ajax19 on 04/14/11 at 02:24 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I think there’s a bigger issue here than just this one instance, what with TV Rights talks going on:

If VERSUS wants to keep the NHL, the league would have every right to demand that VERSUS not only increase its household penetration, but that they also increase it VERSUS Alt penetration.

For a lot of carriers this would be problematic though—most cable carriers only carry VERSUS and then maybe VERSUS HD.  They would need to then add VERSUS Alt and VERSUS Alt HD and this is problematic because most cable carriers won’t even carry ESPN Alt or ESPN 2 Alt as it is, let alone VERSUS.

I have no problem really with VERSUS and what they’ve done to facilitate the NHL, but if the league could get a multi-channel deal that was allow for more than 1 national telecast a night (which even ESPN isn’t willing to do from the sounds of things in trying to contain NHL only on ESPN2).

Hmmm.  How serious is Turner?  And how has Turner managed to not have their own Sports network yet?  You could have some games on TBS (once a week), some games on TNT (once a week), and then the bulk carrying a Turner Sports Network.  You think Turner couldn’t drive fans to the Thrashers?

The point is, this isn’t going to improve on VERSUS, because they still can’t get some carriers to carry VERSUS at all, let alone an Alt (and part of that is because Comcast is such a giant bag of d*cks to everyone).  The decision wasn’t a bad one to stay, but the reality is the room isn’t there for an Alt or 2nd option for VERSUS.  If the league wants to continue to grow, for that reason alone they may need to look elsewhere… then maybe they can get their multi-channel/multi-network deal that is more than a package of like 5 games like NBC has.

Posted by Primis on 04/14/11 at 02:38 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I don’t think my Comcast has a second Versus channel.  If it does, I am not aware of it.

Posted by Ajax19 on 04/14/11 at 12:24 PM ET

The irony of this of course is that Comcast owns VERSUS.

Posted by Primis on 04/14/11 at 02:39 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Perhaps, I’m spoiled here in Vegas where I can get to watch any of the games at the casinos (politely and kindly ask the sportsbooks to flip the channel to whatever game you want - in other words, tip wisely).  I don’t have blackout issues at all.

But, God Bless you guys for forking up the Benjamins and Jacksons for your hockey fix only to be denied access because of that precious broadcasting rights commodity.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 04/14/11 at 03:13 PM ET

Krononymous's avatar

Since the addition of the NHL Network, the switch to Versus and NBC “developed” an interest in the NHL, Center Ice customers have seen a reduction in game availability.  The NHL Network blacks out Penguins games in Cleveland because we are apparently in the Pittsburgh market.  Versus takes over games I’d prefer to watch on FSD and I have to stream NBC games when the Indians are on.  What was really stupid about last night is that I did watch the Rangers/Caps OT but on MSG because I’d much rather listen to Sam Rosen then the Caps broadcast picked up by Versus.

Posted by Krononymous on 04/14/11 at 03:20 PM ET

calquake's avatar

It is stunning to me that no one at the NHL wouldn’t have thought of this potential problem and prepared for it.

I love a good knee-slapper in the morning.

Posted by calquake from a.k.a. Uniquake, workin' on my manifesto on 04/14/11 at 03:33 PM ET


Playoff games should NOT be blacked out. I can live with a reg. season black out game, but the post season black outs are unacceptable. Isn’t a black out determined by whether the game is sold out or not? I’m living in AZ, and need to make other arrangements to watch game 2 on Saturday. Might have to take SYF’s suggestion and make it a weekend in Vegas.

One way my father would elude black out restrictions was to convince DTV that his satellite was used in his motorhome, but they finally put an end to that.

Posted by Jesters Dead on 04/14/11 at 03:55 PM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

I subscribed for the year, I get all games, no blackouts, and the games are archived if you want to watch a game from the past.  With the newer video cards on the latest computers with HDMI outputs the picture is usually pretty good on my flatscreen.  Maybe a drawback or a bonus that you never know what feed you wind up with (they usually offer 2 feeds to pick from).  Living in the USA, it is the only chance I get to see TSN,  Rogers broadcasts or CSN broadcasts.  I’m using standard hi-speed cable (never more than 5.7 mbps) and often have 3 or 4 different games streaming among my laptops.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 04/14/11 at 05:50 PM ET


I am not happy but I understand why they decided to show the OT period on Versus.  But nobody mentioned that Versus decided to air their intermission show when the Vancouver-Chicago game started, totally breaking their promise of the original schedule.  Finally, after a lot of unless talks and COMMERCIALS, they showed the Vancouver game for maybe one minute, then more COMMERCIALS before the OT period started.  There was no respect for their responsibility to broadcast the game.

Posted by Kel on 04/14/11 at 08:15 PM ET


In New York, both Vs and Vs alternate feeds were blacked out when Vs switched to Rangers/Caps because we were getting that game on MSG locally. Same thing seemed to be on course for Thursday where the Sharks/Kings game would have been bypassed if Philly was able to send its game vs. Buffalo into OT. I didn’t get a sense that the alternate Vs. channel on DirecTV would have been picked up LA/SJ.
I’m also peeved that during the regular season, NHL CI is more than happy to provide CBC and TSN feeds, yet in the playoffs they only provide US regional networks. On DirecTV at least, I’m only getting the Preds feed for Ducks/Preds, but would prefer to see the TSN feed as well. It probably has to do with the worry that an earlier TSN game might run into that time slot thus causing a exclusive conflict with Versus, but really, we pay for the service all year, will it kill Versus to lose an hour of exclusivity to the few who pay for Center Ice and would acutally bail on the Versus coverage?

Posted by silpiet from New York on 04/15/11 at 12:07 PM ET

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