The dispute between Versus and DirecTV, which began at the end of August and kept the cable home of the NHL off the air for fans with the satellite service, has finally come to an end. Versus confirmed Monday that an agreement is in place and the station is back on Channel 603.
DIRECTV and Comcast have reached an agreement to return VERSUS to the DIRECTV programming lineup today. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
VERSUS will return to the same DIRECTV programming packages it was in at the end of August 2009.
"We are pleased that both sides were able to work out a satisfactory deal to bring this programming back to our customers," said Derek Chang, executive vice president, Content Strategy and Development, DIRECTV.
"We're excited that we were able to come to a fair agreement that puts VERSUS back in millions of homes with DIRECTV in time for our busy spring programming schedule," said Jamie Davis, president of VERSUS. "We look forward to super-serving these fans with NHL regular-season and playoff coverage, our first live UFC event and much more."
Hockey fans, MMA fans, racing fans, rodeo fans ... exhale. More details as they come in.
UPDATE: Finally grabbed some time to update this post.
The reason this deal is finally done is because we finally reached the zero hour for both parties.
There was the first UFC event on Versus coming up on Saturday. The Stanley Cup playoffs were looming. Tour de France fans were starting to get the jitters. Factor in the MMA, Indy Car and, yes, bull-riding fans that have been making noise for months, and it was imperative to get this done. So they got it done.
Phillip Swann of TVPredictions.com has an interesting look at the factors behind the settlement:
DIRECTV had wanted to include Versus in a more exclusive sports package that would have meant fewer viewers -- and possibly less money -- for the sports channel. But DIRECTV's announcement that Versus will stay in the same programming package suggests that the satcaster gave up on its demand.
While it's possible that DIRECTV gave Versus less money per viewer in this new deal, it's more likely that the satcaster blinked, fearful that more subscribers would switch to a TV provider that carried Versus and the NHL playoffs.
It's safe to assume that there was some give-and-take here financially, although terms haven't been disclosed. But the bottom line is that Versus fought to stay on the same tier where it was found last August, and there it stays.
In that regard, it's a victory; even if, overall, it's been a loss for fans left in the cold while two corporations engage in a protracted pissing match. Just glad it's over.
Stick-tap to Jim R. for the heads-up that something was going down with this story.