Versus Could be Dropped from DirecTv

This is not what the Mountain West needs another hurdle for ways the voters can not see the game.  Versus apparently wants more money and DirecTv is saying their demands are not of the market, and the deadline is August 31.  Currently there are eight games for the MWC that are to be televised on Versus, and the first game that would be affected is the Texas at Wyoming tilt on September 12th.

Currently Versus is on the basic package for the vast majority of satellite and cable companies which serves 75 million viewers, and DirecTv has about 24 million viewers. 

For those not familar with what Versus has to offer here it is below, and an explanation of the ongoing negotiations.

Versus, formerly Outdoor Life Network, was rebranded in 2006 and is the home of the National Hockey League as well as collegiate sports from the Pac-10, Big 12, Mountain West and Ivy League conferences, the Tour de France bicycle race, Davis Cup Tennis, the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), World Extreme Cage fighting (WEC), the Indy Racing League and Professional Boxing.

In a statement, DirecTV said that the dispute centers on carriage fees. According to SNL Kagan, Versus was getting about 18 cents per subscriber per month in carriage fees from cable operators in 2009.

"In our contract discussions, Comcast has demanded a deal for Versus that is not comparable to other providers and is pushing for a significant rate hike that does not reflect current market terms or the value of its programming," DirecTV said in a prepared statement. "We will continue to try and negotiate a fair deal, but we intend to hold the line on our programming costs and protect our customers against these unfair demands that are both discriminatory and wholly unrealistic given current market rates. If we do not reach an agreement, the network will come down on Sept. 1 following the expiration of our contract with Versus."

This is response from DirecTv:

A brief question and answer on DirecTV's website puts the blame for this issue on Versus.

Versus is asking for terms which do not reflect the market and which they are not asking of all other distributors. DIRECTV wants to keep your monthly fees low, so it's doing everything it can to avoid paying exorbitant programming fees.

Obviously, the NHL is affected, as they are the main anchor of Versus' programming.

Versus responded to an update given to AOL's Fanhouse:

VERSUS has given FanHouse the following statement: "Since our last deal with DirecTV, VERSUS has added many marquee properties and has become the fastest growing sports cable network in the country. Despite this tremendous momentum, we are offering DirecTV the ability to carry VERSUS the same way it does today at the market price for the network. We continue to talk and are hopeful that we will reach an agreement."

Fans of the MWC who have DirecTv will be peeved, because it took over two season to just get The Mtn. on DirecTv, so it is well documented that CBS which owns a stake in The Mtn. and Versus are firm with their negotiations.  This could be an extended battle between the two.

At least in this case the NFL, WEC (part of the UFC), the PBR, and others are involved so this deal could be settled prior to the August 31st deadline.  However, even so those who want to watch the MWC games and have DirecTv could be trying to scramble to find a place to watch these games.

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