As soon as NBC won the broadcasting rights to the NHL for the next 10 years it was announced that the Versus name would be rebranded into something that would fit within the Peacock family.
Beginning Jan. 2, 2012, say goodbye to Versus and hello to the NBC Sports Network.
The NBC Sports Network will serve as the NBC Sports Group's 24/7 cable platform. Many NBC Sports production and programming elements have already been introduced on VERSUS since the merger — such as adopting the "Inside the Glass" production philosophy for all its NHL games, and adding horse racing and Notre Dame Football-related programming.
"This effort is a major step towards a complete strategic alignment of all our platforms and businesses," NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus said. "This is more than just a name change for VERSUS. It's a complete repositioning of the brand to provide value for marketers, consumers as well as all our affiliates and distributors. We want anyone who comes into contact with any of our assets to immediately connect with the NBC Sports brand promise."
The reason for the wait in the launch is that NBC wants to use four of its biggest events of the winter schedule to help promote the change. NBC will air the final Sunday night game of the NFL regular season on New Year's Day night; then the Winter Classic the next afternoon; the following Saturday will be the opening round of the NFL playoffs; and finally, on Sunday, Feb. 5, NBC will be broadcasting Super Bowl XLVI.
Versus/NBC Sports Network has already begun making over their NHL product as we saw at the tail end of last season. So far this summer, NBC has already acquired "Inside the Glass" analyst Pierre McGuire and play-by-play men Dave Strader and Mike Emrick on a full-time basis beginning next season.