Monday, January 02, 2012

Rest In Peace, Versus Network

When Comcast first approached me to advertise for them about the new channel Versus and talk about the new forms of programming, I was elated that soon I was showing just how viable I was as a blog source and respected among the mainstream media. I was glad to help them out hopefully during that time. It was a cleverly named channel, I'd thought.
Versus, the name, was the epitome of what sports was about. It was the antagonistic competition that drove the compelling narrative story - something that the audience can follow.

In the time that Versus was a sports network that dared take a chance on a lot of new programming, it grew itself into a familiar brand of sports broadcasting that featured my favorite sport of hockey. Versus was going to position itself as an alternative channel to the established networks of familiar names. They were banking on a proportional backlash that fans thought that the snobbish "Entertainment and Sports Promotion Network" looked down on. But it wasn't the only people who looked down upon the channel. Soon, some fans would turn negatively towards versus and suggest that it really wasn't legitimate because of the difficulty finding it on the channel locater or have it on at all.

It was the re-defined OLN network that Comcast used to air the outdoor sports like hunting, fishing, cycling, and motor sports. Sure, other channels did that, but not with the Comcast budget.

But as the popularity of hockey returned after the lockout, Versus grew an audience of hardcore hockey fans. They got familiarized with Keith Jones, Brian Engblom, and of course the ever-present Bill Clement. It was slowly but surely delivering the kind of content that the fans expected. When the Comcast company finally moved it to a respectable slot on the cable dial, the "stain" of a second-rate sports network was already upon it.

And don't forget the short lived gimmick PR campaign that had some unintended backfire. "Show us your V" campaign was laughed at all over the internet.

So, it had to go. Once the NBC-Universal merger came through, it was only natural to rename the Versus channel to the more familiar multi-spectral peacock of NBC Sports branding and compete with CBS, ABC/ESPN, and FOX. Today, marks the first day of that new format, so..

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