February 09, 2010
Every week, we receive pleas from puckheads with DirecTV who are angry about missing NHL hockey because the satellite provider yanked the Versus network off its airwaves in September 2009.
That "chatter" has increased recently as the chances of missing postseason hockey because of the dispute theoretically increase.
Bad news on that front. We checked in with Versus on Tuesday about the progress of the talks, and a spokesman released the following statement to Puck Daddy:
"At this time, we are not optimistic that an agreement will be in place with DirecTV in time for the start of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs."
Well, that's no good. The sides are still talking, but a source with knowledge of the negotiations told me that there's a multitude of issues still being debated in the stalemate. The source characterized the talks as "two sides speaking different languages."
The same source said recent optimism that a deal would get done by March, mostly coming from MMA media that are also affected by the DirecTV/Versus dispute, doesn't sync up with the current state of negotiations -- going as far as to say it's status quo from the end of last year.
Now, Versus has attempted to rally its viewers before during different segments of this stalemate, hoping hockey fans would pressure DirecTV into a deal. It hasn't worked before ... but the Stanley Cup playoffs haven't been this close before, either.
At the beginning of this dispute, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told XM Radio that "we have the luxury of some time for the parties to work this out ... Our interest is protecting the interests of hockey fans." Time is running out; and every week, hockey fans are asking us why the NHL isn't protecting their interests in this ordeal, like reader Joseph C.:
I have tried in vain to contact the NHL on this matter and gotten no response, maybe you'll have better luck if you choose to peruse it. Since the beginning on the hockey season Versus and DirecTV have been in a spat that has had the channel black on DirecTV. I understand the business involved in these sort of negotiations, what I don't understand is how the NHL is allowing their small fan base to shrink even further by allowing these entities to restrict the viewership.
The clock is ticking. Time for all parties to get this done for the sake of the fans.