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Versus (TV channel)

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Template:Infobox TV channel

Versus (previously known as OLN until a name change on September 25, 2006) is a cable television sports channel owned by Comcast and shown in the United States. The OLN brand was retained in Canada, and with the exception of select sports (notably ice hockey), simulcasts all of Versus programming. Formerly, OLN stood for Outdoor Life Network, and the name was licensed from Outdoor Life magazine. Under that name, the channel was launched in July of 1995 and at the time focused almost exclusively on fishing, hunting, and other related outdoor sports.

ProgrammingEdit

  • NHL on Versus

2005-2010

  • College Football on Versus

2005-2010

  • College Basketball Versus

2005-2010

  • College Baseball on Versus

2005-2010

  • College Hockey on Versus

2005-2010

  • PBR on Versus

2005-2010

  • Americas Cup on Versus

2005-2010


Extreme sportsEdit

In July 2005, OLN revamped its image, focusing on more extreme outdoor sporting events. As noted by an OLN press release, its programming is "designed to be real, bold and awe-inspiring and supports our mission to bring to life the thrills, challenges and competition in the outdoors that our audience craves." In conjunction with the revamp, OLN's logo and website (in the USA) were completely redesigned as well. As part of the revamp, OLN acquired the rights from NBC Universal of the X Games-type Gravity Games as well as the rebroadcast rights to the CBS reality series Survivor, and began airing the series from the beginning of season one on July 24, 2005. Versus is also home to many Professional Bull Riders (PBR) rodeo and bull-riding events.

CyclingEdit

In 2004, OLN capitalized on the popularity of Lance Armstrong during the Tour de France, showing virtually nothing but Tour-related coverage for over three weeks. Their coverage of the Tour was hosted by Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen, Al Trautwig, and Bob Roll. Additional Tour-related programming included the reality shows The Lance Chronicles which focused on Armstrong's training for the Tour, and The Roadside Tour, following the Cutters, a particularly devoted group of Armstrong fans. This coverage was grouped under the title "The Cyclysm," which was meant to refer to Armstrong's effort to win a record sixth Tour de France. Versus marketed this with the line, "Someday, someone may ask you, 'Where were you during the Cyclysm?'" A year later, the network's coverage of the Tour was promoted as "Cyclysm II" as Armstrong went for his seventh consecutive maillot jaune, which he won.

Ice hockeyEdit

Main article: The NHL on Versus

On August 17, 2005, ESPN chose not to match OLN's three-year, US$200 million offer for the NHL's U.S. cable TV rights.[1] The NHL's deal with OLN parent Comcast also gives the company part ownership of a U.S. version of NHL Network, and distribution on all of its cable systems. Comcast also has the rights to simulcast out of market NHL games on its Comcast SportsNet stations. Both Comcast and the NHL have the right to void the final year of the contract.

During certain games, Versus simulcasts the CBC feed of NHL games, mostly those where teams from western Canada are at home. Also, on September 30, 2007, it simulcast NHL Network's coverage of the game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks played at the O2 Arena in London, England.

FootballEdit

Versus currently airs College Football on Versus games from the Mountain West Conference. This relationship began before OLN rebranded to Versus with the September 9 game between Colorado State and Colorado in the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown.[2][3] On June 6, 2007, it was announced that Versus has agreed to a multi-year year deal with Fox Sports Net to sublicense up to 10 college games annually from the Pac-10 and Big 12 conferences[4] totaling 19 scheduled college football games on Versus during 2007.[5]

Early in 2006, OLN broadcast some games during the Arena Football League's 20th Anniversary season. Versus televised a weekly regular-season game for 11 weeks as well as a wild card playoff game.[6] However, the agreement was not renewed, instead moving to ESPN.[7]

In 2006, Versus bid on the NFL's new Thursday and Saturday night game package (for games that would air from Thanksgiving to the end of the season), however the NFL opted instead to put games on its own NFL Network.

BasketballEdit

Versus added college basketball to its schedule for the 2006-07 season, as it secured the rights to broadcast eight men's Mountain West Conference basketball games, including the Conference Championship game.[8] Versus also televised all eight games of the inaugural T-Mobile Invitational high school basketball tournament.[9]

BaseballEdit

There had been reports that Versus might take the Monday night, Wednesday night (plus most Wednesday afternoons), and Sunday night cable telecast rights to Major League Baseball games away from ESPN, but ESPN managed to work out a new deal allowing fewer local blackouts of Monday games (a major sticking point for ESPN). ESPN's other package, which includes a Thursday game, games on holidays, and Division Series playoff games, expired after the 2006 season and has been awarded to TBS, replacing the Thursday night games with a Sunday afternoon package. OLN was expected to bid on those rights as well.[10] Versus had one last opportunity to acquire baseball rights, as one of either the American League or National League Championship Series was up for grabs (the other LCS was previously announced to air on FOX), but TBS won those rights as well.[11]

Versus did air the 12th annual Cal Ripken World Series in 2006 and has rights to air the 13th annual in 2007. Versus will air the quarterfinals, semifinals and World Series Championship Game LIVE from Cal Sr.’s Yard at the Ripken Academy in Aberdeen, MD.

Combat sportsEdit

Versus is beginning to program a variety of combat sports. In 2006, Versus entered the boxing arena with a series of fight programs promoted by Bob Arum's Top Rank group.[12] Versus also televises Chuck Norris's World Combat League, a kickboxing promotion where fights are contested in a unique round ring without ropes.[13] Versus entered into a partnership with World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) to bring mixed martial arts events to the network, with the first being broadcast live on June 3, 2007.[14] Versus also entered into a partnership with MMA clothing line TapouT to air TapouT, a mixed martial arts reality television program which also debuted on June 3.

Track and Field (Athletics)Edit

Versus, with NBC Sports and the World Championship Sports Network, will broadcast coverage of the 2007 World Championships in Athletics from Osaka, Japan.

Other sportsEdit

Versus has secured coverage for the 2007 America's Cup, which was also a staple on ESPN and ESPN2 for years. OLN began to show qualifying regattas in late 2005. Versus will air the Louis Vuitton Cup for challengers in 2007, and the America's Cup match between the Louis Vuitton winner and current champions, Alinghi of Switzerland in Valencia, Spain. In 2006, it picked up American broadcast rights (in conjunction with The Tennis Channel) of Davis Cup events. In addition, the network has signed for a Saturday night "Game of the Week" for the National Lacrosse League starting with the 2006-07 season.[15] Also in 2006, Versus began airing the Professional Darts Corporation's Holsten Premier League Darts starting in 2006. Versus has also added the Major Indoor Soccer League games, and the USA Sevens, one of the eight tournaments that make up the IRB Sevens World Series, the top annual circuit in the sevens version of rugby union. Also broadcast various motorsports series on its Lucas Oil Motorsports Hour program such as USAC, ASA and Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. In 2007, Versus aired coverage of the 2007 Sony Ericsson Championships from Madrid, Spain.[16]

Other programsEdit

Versus has also aired several sports movies, like Rocky III and Miracle on Ice, as well as classic episodes of Survivor.[17]

DistributionEdit

In October 2005, OLN elected not to provide its NHL coverage to a number of distributors, including EchoStar (Dish Network) and Cablevision, which both refused Comcast's request to place Versus on a much higher-penetration package. During this time, Versus blacked out NHL coverage on these systems, replacing them with other programming. It is believed that the reason behind these blackouts had to do with a penalty fee that Comcast would have had to pay the NHL if they did not significantly increase their distribution.

While Cablevision eventually came to an agreement making OLN/Versus available to any customer with digital cable, EchoStar retaliated by pulling OLN from its service; it was Dish Network's stance that few of its customers would be willing to have the channel if it meant raising rates. On April 24, 2006, the same date that OLN announced the late-September name change to Versus, Dish Network and OLN reached a long term agreement to restore the channel.

Viewer complaintsEdit

As of 2005, OLN was still offering live coverage of the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, but, due to poor ratings, all other events were relegated to compressed, tape-delay coverage, including the Vuelta a España, despite its status as a three-week long grand tour on par with the Tour and Giro. However, in 2006 OLN has offered live (and commercial-free) coverage via streaming video on its website of the Giro and Vuelta, with a Sunday highlights show of the week in review of not just the Grand Tours, but Classics as well.

Versus is available in significantly fewer television households than ESPN. As of April 2007, the network was only available in 59 percent of households in the Los Angeles media market that have cable and satellite service.[18] In contrast, ESPN and ESPN2, which carried NHL games before Versus, is available on all systems.

In Game 1 of the 2007 Western Conference quarterfinals between the Dallas Stars and the Vancouver Canucks, Versus cut away during the third overtime intermission to show a paid infomercial in many markets. Some Versus viewers were left unable to see the fourth overtime in which Henrik Sedin scored the winning goal at 18:06 into the period.[19]

Versus' coverage schedule is also a source of confusion. For example, it was originally reported that the network had exclusive rights to carry the entire 2007 playoff series between the Canucks and Anaheim Ducks in the Los Angeles market, with the games not shown on local outlets. However, Game 1 was shown on KDOC and games 2 and 4 were scheduled for airing on Fox Sports Net West. FSN West conceded that the start of Game 4 would probably have to be shown on a split screen because it overlaps with the expected end of a regular season Major League Baseball telecast (Angels at Royals).[20] Game 3 was a Versus exclusive in Los Angeles, with remaining games (if necessary) split between Versus and FSN Prime Ticket.

An unrelated but still vexing issue hit Versus on September 22, 2007, when about 30 minutes of live video (in real time) of the telecast of the college football game between Arizona and California was not available due to technical difficulties; presumably, no picture came out of Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California.

Miscellaneous noteEdit

On the time/score bar on the top of the screen, the "VS." circular logo is in the middle of the screen. This contrasts with the location used by other networks, which is on one end of the bar or the other. Thus, the bar can be read, "(Team A)" "Versus" "(Team B)," which reflects the network's name.

Versus HDEdit

Versus recently announced Versus HD, a new high-definition simulcast of Versus. In certain Comcast and Time Warner Cable markets, another channel, Versus/Golf HD, will be presenting alternating content from both Golf Channel and Versus. Prior to the launch of Versus/Golf HD, Versus HD content was presented on the former INHD/INHD2.

All HD content from Versus is in 1080i.

LogosEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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