Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, January 22, 2021

well versed
Worth noting: Versus and the National Hockey League will remain hitched in the near future, as the fledgling cable sports network has extended its telecast agreement with the hockey folks through the 2010-11 season, at around $75 million per year.

And there’s no shortage of nice things being said:

During the 2006-7 season, Versus’s N.H.L. rating stayed flat at a 0.2, but because of the overall growth of subscribers, viewership rose 31 percent to 212,366.

[Versus president Gavin] Harvey said the deal was turning a profit.

“Without the N.H.L., we’d be in a more difficult pickle,” he said.

Since the Comcast-owned Versus acquired the rights to the N.H.L. — after ESPN vowed to drastically reduce its rights payment to the league — the network has grown by about 10 million subscribers to 74 million, more than 22 million fewer than ESPN or ESPN2. It has also increased its subscriber fee to about 26 cents a month, from less than 20 cents.

It doesn’t hurt that Comcast also owns the Philadelphia Flyers, and thus has a vested interest in providing the league national exposure. Besides, despite all the running-down, there’s still a bigger chasm between the bush-league sports and the NHL; at the end of the day, it’s one of the Big Four sports, albeit the weak sister of the bunch (the way it’s been since the 1970s, really).

I’ll take all the TV time for hockey I can get. If Versus’ continued slow-but-steady growth represents a tandem trend with the NHL, all the better. It does verify a certain vague positivity in hockey’s perception ever since the NHL Winter Classic garnered modestly good reviews.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/22/2008 11:17:08 PM
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz, TV
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