Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Versus: The outrage continues

In Dallas, the first four Western Conference Finals games between the Stars and the Detroit Red Wings will only be available locally on Versus; in Detroit, it's three of the first four. This has become a fairly bitter pill to swallow for the fans that do not have Versus currently in their cable package — or as we like to call them here, "the majority"...
It is incredible to me that some fans who have watched every game up until this point won't now be able to follow the games that mean the most.

That, in itself, is the biggest indictment of the NHL's current television arrangement in the U.S.
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21 Comments:

At 3:34 PM, May 06, 2008, OpenID aaronin said...

in Buffalo, Time Warner added it to the basic cable package when the Sabres reached the ECF.

Now it's part of the basic package, and Versus HD is part of TW's free HD. not saying it's right, but I'd hope that the cable companies in those cities are able to do something like this.

 
At 3:39 PM, May 06, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get this 'outrage.' If you're a hockey fan in the U.S., of which I am a part, you should already have Versus. It's not that the channel is not available, it's that you have to pay a premium to get it, which is a bitter pill to swallow but you could always cancel it in June/July.

 
At 3:49 PM, May 06, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Fans who don't like it call the NHL/Gary Bettman and let him know. WE bet you'll get immediate action! LOL
2) Great job Gary exposing as few people possible to the NHL when the games mean the most!!

 
At 3:52 PM, May 06, 2008, Blogger heed said...

i don't see what all the complaining is about. had bettman not gone with versus, what do you think the chances that nbc or whatever other "major" american network would broadcast all the games?

 
At 3:56 PM, May 06, 2008, Blogger zk said...

@anon
it's not so much outrage at cable companies' to charge a premium or not (thought this does suck for those who have to pay). it's outrage at the nhl's incompetence in presenting its product to the fans. for a product like the nhl, this tv deal is a joke. period.

 
At 3:56 PM, May 06, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

The complaints relate to the exclusivity of the Versus broadcast. Fans cannot watch the games in Detroit or Dallas on their regional networks, where the majority of the games this season have been shown.

 
At 4:01 PM, May 06, 2008, Blogger halogoggles said...

I upgraded my Dish Network programming just to get this stupid channel. Now I'm paying about $20 more a month than I want to. After the season I will promptly be getting rid of it. Awesome.

 
At 4:03 PM, May 06, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

I guess it's an issue, but it's kind of surprising that fans are dealing with it now.

No Pun Intended did a Versus count with their schedule this year, and Pittsburgh was the most broadcast team on that network, with Philly one behind and Detroit two behind.

These are among the most Versus-broadcast teams in the league; I would have thought that most die-hard fans would have adapted to that channel by now.

 
At 4:30 PM, May 06, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ZK, but no other channel wanted to carry the NHL games without the NHL paying a huge fee. That is the exact opposite way it should be which is why the NHL, rightly I should add, went with Versus.

I'm just like everyone else. I don't like the Versus coverage (I know there is intermission coverage, so why keep breaking into the game to remind me?), I consider Comcast to be one of the great evils in society (exaggeration naturally) and I resent the fact Comcast owns both Versus and the Flyers.

What was the alternative though? Should the NHL just have continued without a national carrier and went with the local Fox Sports channels and a few others, only residing on NBC when there isn't horse racing and when NBC decided the NHL would get better ratings than infomercials?

 
At 5:00 PM, May 06, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

James, you can add Pittsburgh to the list with Detroit and Dallas as well. The majority of the games are broadcast on FSN Pittsburgh here but now they are only available on Versus.

To all those suggesting the problem is not Versus but people unwilling to pay extra for the channel I can only say it must be nice to have all that cash laying around.

 
At 5:13 PM, May 06, 2008, Anonymous dvc said...

In the NFL, when the local team is playing on a cable channel rather than on the broadcast networks, a local broadcast channel in that market typically simulcasts the game. Why can't this be done in hockey for the playoffs? Too many games, not enough local interest, Comcast, some other reason? Anyone know?

 
At 5:26 PM, May 06, 2008, Blogger Kel said...

For someone like myself who is not a fan of the local team, I actually prefer games on Versus as I'm sick and tired of the biased local announcers/commentators. In the 1st and 2nd round, my Versus feed was blacked out while the local network broadcast the game.

The NHL basically had no choice. They already signed a deal with NBC that doesn't pay the NHL any guaranteed fee. The ESPN didn't appear to want the NHL at the time when poker was way more popular (it is probably less than hockey by now). So the NHL had only one choice for a national cable channel, Versus, willing to pay for the broadcasting rights. Remember ESPN and local Sportsnet channels are also paid, not free. The only difference is that Versus is usually not on the lowest priced package, but my Comcast cable TV subscription (cheapest digital package) includes Versus. I also wonders whether the fact that Comcast owns Versus is the main reason why the other TV providers like DirecTV and DISH don't include the channel in the basic package to limit its viewership.

 
At 5:30 PM, May 06, 2008, Blogger zk said...

@ anon 4:30
i still think the "outrage" is justified. granted, when the nhl contracted with versus, its bargaining power wasn't the greatest. everyone knows the league was in no position to dictate terms. that said, i find it hard to believe this was the best deal they could strike

 
At 5:55 PM, May 06, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To all those suggesting the problem is not Versus but people unwilling to pay extra for the channel I can only say it must be nice to have all that cash laying around."

Yet you have the money to pay for cable. If you cannot afford an extra $20 over two months, you probably shouldn't use your existing funds on cable television in the first place.

 
At 6:48 PM, May 06, 2008, Blogger auxlepli said...

While Versus isn't in as many homes as it probably should be. It shouldn't be an indictment of the network nor the NHL, but the local cable companies. That's where blame should be.
In any case, I believe things will get better. It could be worse. I remember in back in 1991 or 1992 when there was no TV contract and my friend had to order the Stanley Cup Final. Things could definitely be worse.

 
At 7:58 PM, May 06, 2008, Anonymous dr said...

Every other sport that has regional coverage of most regular season games - baseball and basketball - grants exclusivity to its national networks for at least the final two rounds, and in the case of baseball, all of the playoffs. This is not anything that is new or unusual. Would it be better if each of these games were only available to the local markets of the competing teams? Because local blackouts of these games would kill what little value this deal has for Versus. I have TimeWarner cable (here in The Cuse) and Versus is channel 55 (not exactly the TV hinterlands in this 500-channel world) and is grouped with all of the regional sports networks (YES, SNY, MSG). I realize this is different everywhere but I agree with the earlier commenter - I don't understand why this is so vexing for so many hockey fans.

 
At 9:08 PM, May 06, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this league knows how to reward stupidity because it's runned by stupidity

 
At 11:17 PM, May 06, 2008, Anonymous Gerald said...

this league knows how to reward stupidity because it's runned by stupidity

This may very well be the greatest comment in the history of comments.

 
At 12:27 AM, May 07, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all those suggesting the problem is not Versus but people unwilling to pay extra for the channel I can only say it must be nice to have all that cash laying around.

"Yet you have the money to pay for cable. If you cannot afford an extra $20 over two months, you probably shouldn't use your existing funds on cable television in the first place."

I don't know where you reside but where I live, with the monopoly the local cable company has on this region, Versus costs more than that price. Try around forty dollars a month, plus a premium cable subscription, as Versus cannot be ordered with just a basic subscription.

 
At 12:32 AM, May 07, 2008, Blogger James said...

It seems a lot of you aren't getting it. There are a lot of Michigan customers who don't get Versus and CANNOT get it because their provider refuses to carry it. It's not that people "won't adapt to it", it's that they can't get it at all.

 
At 8:45 AM, May 07, 2008, Blogger auxlepli said...

It seems a lot of you aren't getting it. There are a lot of Michigan customers who don't get Versus and CANNOT get it because their provider refuses to carry it. It's not that people "won't adapt to it", it's that they can't get it at all.

Which is why I posted that the cable companies should be blamed and not Versus or the NHL.

 

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