Sunday, December 13, 2009

Versus sucks

I haven't used this blog to pontificate about how the DirecTV-Versus stalemate has led to my not being able to watch the titular "Game of the Week" in HD but instead on my computer screen from some internet feed from Australia.  The issue is bigger than me, bigger than the Blue Jackets.  That, and the Blue Jackets are only on Versus a couple of times this season (thankfully, seeing how lousy we've been playing).

But what they're doing to the Blue Jackets - and hockey fans - on Tuesday night is inexcusable.

The Jackets will be in Minnesota on Tuesday night to take on the slowly improving Wild.  To the best of my understanding, there is no television coverage of the game.  Not Fox Sports Ohio.  Not whatever the broadcast outlet in Minnesota might be (in theory, that would be available through Center Ice).  Nope, no coverage beyond the Minnesota arena's security cameras.

Why is this the case?  Apparently, Versus put our game on ice.

According to Twitterer bzarcher:
@DarkBlueJacket @leeauer - Its because of the tv contract - Versus has exclusive tv rights for tuesday night games, even if they don't choose to air them.
If this is true, and the fact that there's a total blackout on the game leads me to think that it is, how dare Versus do this to NHL fans?  What gives them the right to think that the world wants to watch the Pens-Flyers game (sorry, Friendly Pens Fan) instead of, say, CBJ-Wild?  OK, the contract that they have with the NHL apparently gives them the right...but my point is that their archaic approach to their broadcast rights is making it that much harder to be an NHL fan.  Stupid doesn't begin to describe this behavior.

While I'm at it, why is the NHL permitting Versus to pull this crap?  Do they have that little respect for their own entertainment product that they are willing to give nationwide blackout rights to Versus?  If they feel compelled to give exclusive date/time rights to Versus, why do they allow any game other than their Game of the Week to be played at the same time?  Don't they care about the fans who are hurt by this?

Regardless of whether the NHL continues with Versus in the years ahead or whether they go to another broadcast outlet, they need to correct this.  It is so counterproductive for the growth of the league and its fan base...just incredible.

Now, if I'm wrong - Please correct me, and I'll offer a full retraction.  I'd enjoy the opportunity...but the game still isn't on TV on Tuesday, and I'll be listening to George and Bob on CD101.


  1. I think you're right. One thing I'd like to see the NHL do is to branch out and have multiple stations host games. For example since NBC owns USA, why not air games every so often like TNT does with the NBA?

  2. I think you are laying blame on the wrong person here. This is no one's fault but the NHL itself. When negotiating a contract, versus laid out what they wanted. It was the NHL who had to agree to the demands. Like any negotiation, you always ask for more than what you are willing to accept. If the other side caves into your demads, its even better for you.

    Bottom line, it is just another example of how the NHL has screwed themselves, and more importantly, its fans.

  3. Mike - I have a sneaking suspicion that the pending Comcast purchase of NBC Universal will result in NHL programming on more than just Versus (which, as Comcast owns the channel, would be in the mix). The combination of NBC, Versus and the other NBC channels - along with the fact that hockey in hi-def is SO much more accessible to the average viewer - makes me think this is too easy for the new Comcast-NBC Universal leadership to pass up.

    Mark - I didn't touch on your fine point as directly as you did, but I think the NHL schedulers could have made this all OK by simply letting Versus pick which games they wanted on Tuesdays in primetime (seems like a reasonable concession to your only national broadcast outlet) and then NOT SCHEDULING ANYTHING ELSE in those time slots. It ain't rocket science.

    And you're right, the NHL is second only to Major League Baseball in self-destructive behavior. It's only second because baseball is a much larger (financially speaking) sport, so they have more to lose by their bass-ackwardness.

  4. Isn't it Comcast's fault? They own Versus, and have a history of strong-arming their competitors to get their way. I mean if they can make it impossible for Directv to have Versus, then they can say to you, switch to Comcast so you can get Versus.

    I think its a conflict of interest when cable companies own networks just for this reason. But it seems to me the FCC is bought and paid for by corporate interests.

    Just wait till your health insurance is a government agency too...

  5. Whoa - the DirecTV issue isn't in play here. The issue is whether Versus should be blacking out games that overlap their time slot that they're not broadcasting. Alternatively, the issue for the NHL is "Why in the world are you scheduling games that Versus won't let people see?"

    I won't argue about the consequences of vertical integration (content creation and distribution under one roof) and don't like the Comcast/Versus - DirecTV standoff one bit, but the health insurance comment is a bit off-base. If anything, a government-run health insurance system would be LESS influenced by corporate interests.

  6. Yes, Versus sucks. So do the Blue Jackets. So does the NHL.


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