The NHL has a new 10 year agreement with Versus/NBC.

NBC owns Versus now and Comcast owns NBC. Getting the NHL could be the first step in NBC/Versus (which is expected to be re-named NBC Sports)/Comcast giving ESPN a run for its money.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see ESPN get some competition?

My suggestion for Versus’ new name would have been NOT ESPN.

Now that NBC has a place to put the NBA and MLB, just as ABC does with ESPN, there could be a monstrous bidding war for those rights when they become available.

That should only make things better for sports fans.


I will have Darren Rovell –CNBC’s sports business reporter –on my TribLive Radio show today at noon to talk about what effect NBC’s move toward its own sports network might have down the road.

  • metalslam

    I watch ESPN when i want to watch poker or women`s basketball. It`s tired & lost it`s relevance a long time ago. I watch the NFL , NHL & FSN/ROOT networks way more & i`m glad versus got the deal because i think they do a great job and i don`t have to watch the idiots at espn mock hockey which is my favorite sport.

    • sabu says

      I love versus as well. no espn is great news. if barry melrose had any sense, he’d get the hell out of there as well.

      espn can stick with uconn womens basketball-blarg!

  • Tony D

    It’s nice that the NHL has found a home with Versus and that NBC is trying to compete with ESPN. However, the NHL will never be taken seriously until every game of the Stanley Cup Finals is on NBC, the over the air network and not Versus the cable network.

    I got rid of expanded basic about a year ago and that left me with little options as far as sports go, but I thought I could count on watching every professional championship on the four major networks. I could with the NBA, MLB, and NFL, but I didn’t get to see any of the Stanley Cup Finals until game 5. That means if the Blackhawks would have swept the Flyers in four games, not one single game of the league’s showcase series could have aired on major network television. That’s inexcusable.

    Maybe the NHL doesn’t have much leverage, but if I were them, I’d make it clear to NBC that I’d want all of the Stanley Cup Finals games on their network.

    I know the college football national championship game was on ESPN, a cable network, but they could get away with it because ESPN is a monster network and college football is so popular. The NHL isn’t and needs all the exposure that it can get.

    • JohnSteigerwald

      I don’t disagree but I stopped caring about the NHL being “accepted” as a “major” sport a long time ago. The fact that it’s not actually makes me like it a little more.

    • Bobzilla

      John hit the nail on the head a few threads ago when he pointed that there’s so many NHL teams being seen on local TV, hockey fans don’t have time to watch other teams on national TV. That makes sense to me.
      John also likes to point out that the Pens have the highest local TV ratings in the NHL. It also should be pointed out that the Pens local TV ratings, as impressive as they are, pale in comparison to the Steelers’ local TV ratings. Five times more people locally watch the Steelers than the Pens.

      • JohnSteigerwald

        Multiply the Steelers ratings time 16 and the Penguins by 82 and what do you get? Thins the Steelers ratings would drop a tad if they played three or four times a week instead of one? I love watching the Steelers but I can only expect to do that 20 times a year –tops. That leaves 345 days to TALK about them. I have the option of watching the Penguins PLAY 82 times plus playoffs.

        • Bobzilla

          The Steelers draw a “40” share in the local TV market. Forty times 20 is 800. The Pens draw a “9” share in the exact same TV market. Nine times 82 is 738.
          I actually enjoy “talking” about the NFL in general and the Steelers in particular as often as the law allows. Watching, of course, is better, but talking ain’t all bad.

          • JohnSteigerwald

            I watch BOTH. How’s that for a wild concept? I watched a great hockey game last night (Buf-Phil) and I’ll be watching the Penguins today. The difference between you and me is that you would rather TALK about the Steelers than watch the Penguins. To each his own.

  • YNGController

    I think also a move back to ESPN would have been a disaster for the NHL. The only hockey coverage they give is anything negative that comes the way of the NHL. The WNBA has better coverage on there.

    Does anyone watch those two nitwits in the morning, Mike & Mike? I usually have it on in the background for noise, but man are they lame. I drove through South Bend a couple of years ago and couldn’t believe how much Golic had whored himself out to businesses there to stick his face on a billboard! I hate that Colin Cowherd asshat too.

    • JohnSteigerwald

      I like that term–asshat.

    • Ryan

      Try not to listen to ESPN radio when I don’t have to. Has anybody ever heard Steve Czabin on Spprting News Radio? The guy talks about ALL sports and is hilarious…he refers to Mike and Mike as Same and Samer!

      • Bobzilla

        I go back to ESPN’s early years when Chris Berman was skinny and had hair, and the network filled time with pro wrestling (and it wasn’t even good pro wrestling; something out of Texas that featured the Von Erichs), marble shooting championships and donkey races.
        Through the years, ESPN discovered that it was far easier to hook casual sports fans by promoting and over-hyping individuals rather than teams, a scheme that has been adopted by the country’s local sports mediums.
        We now have a nation of sports fans who actually believe that only teams with an ESPN-approved “elite” player or two can possibly win. The TEAM concept has been bannished.
        That’s called “lazy reporting.”
        As a result, we now have a nation of sports fans under the age of 45 who need ESPN and their local sports “experts” to do all their sports-related thinking for them.

        • JohnSteigerwald

          I’ve been letting Linda Cohn do all my sports thinking for me for years now.

          • Bobzilla

            Linda who?

          • JohnSteigerwald

            Linda Cohn, long time ESPN Sportscenter anchor. This chick can voice over a basketball highlight.

          • Bobzilla

            At least you didn’t say Sally Wiggin.

  • Ochotexto

    Hockey on TV., what a new idea. Maybe they’ll bring that glow puck back.
    They should start by explaining the rules. As soon as the NHL figures them out.

  • Donald

    I haven’t watched ESPN for 3 or 4 years now. Haven’t missed it either.

    So yes, it’s possible someone can compete with ESPN. And why not Vs? They have done a respectable job with the NHL. Continued growth is a real scenario, and expanding into other sports isn’t crazy.

    I quit ESPN because it has become about ESPN, and what ESPN likes (Yanks/Sox/KobeLebron/etc) instead of about sports.

  • Bob

    A bidding war for sports programs will drive your cable bill higher. Somebody has to pay for this. Isn’t ESPN charging about $3+ each month. Watch for sports programing to become a premium tier on cable systems like HBO, Showtime.

    • JohnSteigerwald

      And people can choose to stop paying for it.

    • Arnie

      Probably true. My guess is that the few extra $’s a month will be well worth it. Time will tell though.

  • Ron

    Great for the NHL … Versus treats Hockey the way it deserves to be treated. Games 4 or 5 nights a week … a Hockey show.
    Does anyone believe that all these playoff games would be on if the league was at ESPN ?? It would be behind Womens Softball.

  • Niblick

    Although I agree with others in that it would be nice to see ESPN have some competition, I just don’t think it is possible. They are so entrenched in our entertainment society that I don’t think a new all sports channel can really compete. At first I was disappointed in the news about the NHL renewing with Versus. But then I started to realize that maybe the NHL would get buried in the ESPN lineup. Would there even be room for them on any given night? Do you think for a moment that they would show an NHL game over the Yankees vs. Red Sox match-up?

    The main problem with Versus is that they are not available in many places. Stay somewhere in a hotel on a business trip and you are not going to find a game. ESPN is on though. I hope that re-branding with the NBC name will help get them out of the shadows.

    • JohnSteigerwald

      I remember how long it took for hotels to get Fox News. If Versus/NBC gets more properties, they’ll get the saturation.

  • Joe

    I’ve completely stopped watching all non-sporting event programming on ESPN simply because most of them come across as self-promoting spineless dickholes. My only fear is that if CBS or NBC were able to grab a close to an even share wouldn’t they act exactly the same way? Pro and college mainstream sports have become all about the mighty dollar and so are those at the top that cover them.

    • Darren

      I’m the same way with ESPN. I rarely watch them for anything other than when the Steelers game or a really good college football matchup was on ESPN.

      I hate Sportscenter with a passion, I guess I do watch a few of their NFL shows in small bits (I like NFL Match-up) but I generally watch NFL network for NFL stuff and NHL network for NHL stuff. I don’t like MLB and I don’t like NBA so that’s probably over 50% of what they cover right there. I play poker so I would watch that occasionally but that just disappeared completely (they just pulled ALL poker programming because the government knows what’s best for me).

  • Blasto

    My only beef is that Versus is not as accessible on all systems as ESPN. I could care less except right now during the playoffs. Versus does hockey very well and kudos to them for locking up the NHL for 10 years.
    Did anyone stay up and catch that Kings vs Sharks game last night on Versus.? What a game and well worth a few lost ZZZ’s…LET’S GO PENS !!

    • GeeWhiz

      I went to bed and it was 3-0 because I thought the Sharks were done. Saw the highlights this morning and was pretty bummed I missed a good one.

  • Ken

    Does anyone at ESPN even realize that there still is an NHL? I think most of them erased it from their minds when they stopped carrying it.

    • JohnSteigerwald

      I have the name for the new networks nightly highlight show. Not Sportscenter.

      • Vermonter

        For those of us on Direct TV, there is also an “extra” Versus channel, allowing any game that Versus carries to be shown, rather than just one. ESPN has long held a bunch of spillover channels on DTV, so this makes VS a true cometitor.

        Now, it’s time to bid for other sports.

      • Matt

        Sports we have broadcast rights to Center

        • Ryan

          LOL Matt! That’s exactly what SportsCenter is!

    • Mike V.

      ESPN reports on what they broadcast on ABC/ESPN networks. Sports Center is a way of keeping the ratings up on their live broadcasts. Read a book called “God Save The Fan”. It is good commentary on what is wrong with ESPN and what ESPN is turning watching sports into.

  • Rod Hill

    Wow, my first visit to the site this week and based on the number of comments to each article it would appear that traffic is really really down at the old blog. Am I seeing things right John? I guess the sub title “No punches pulled here” applies to Bryan Stow too, I mean after the thugs put the boot to him you felt the need to take a few shots of your own. Hows that working out for you? To make matters worse you then attempted to explain away your mistake (that never ever works, just ask any politician caught in a scandal) instead of just being a man about it and admitting your foolishness/ ignorance/ stupidity, and then you go one step farther into the abyss by starting to filter out the posts that call you out for what you did and your response to it. Have you learned anything by all this John? Do you like coffee with your humble pie or are still too aloof to admit you screwed up? Have a nice life, I certainly will not waste my money on your next book, maybe you should just stick to sports and leave the political / social issues out of it.

    • JohnSteigerwald

      OK. One more time. I explained myself because that’s what I do here. It’s a blog. You should be thanking me for giving you an outlet for your frustration over not having enough people to support your own blog. How many times do you need to make your point here?
      One last time..the key points.
      I didn’t blame the victim.
      I didn’t say he deserved it.
      The column appeared in three newspapers and among the people who read the column in its full context and who have been reading it for years there was not ONE negative email. ZERO.
      The people who came to it from the internet arrived with a preconceived notion after reading “Jerk in Pa. Says Victim Deserved It.”
      If sensitivity toward the Stow family was so important to all the self-righteous assholes who jumped all over the column, why did they continue to advance it?
      The column appeared on Sunday and would not have gone west of the Ohio River if not for the desire of other bloggers to increase their hits.
      I was accused of writing it because I wanted to increase blog traffic. The column was written for three newspapers and I can’t remember the last time something I wrote in the column generated one response to the blog.
      My blog traffic is fine. How’s your blog doing?
      If you want to comment on other posts, you’re welcome to drop in. I enjoy the debate, but the next time you try to slip a comment on this subject into another post, will be your last post on this blog.
      And there’s no need to thank me for enriching your life.

    • colt

      Rod, John is certainly capable of defending himself, so I will not take the time to attempt to do it for him. But, I cannot help but wonder about your comments. Is it possible that you just disagree with John politically, so you misrepresent the whole thing. Anyone who can read 5th grade English knows what John said and it was perfectly legit. It is perfectly fine to disagree, but there was nothing wrong with what he said. And you know it!

      I do not know about the filtering out of negative posts, but I wrote two positive comments and they did not get posted. Maybe there were just too many, I don’t know…neither do you!

      • JohnSteigerwald

        I shut down all comments….including positive and I appreciate the support but I’m going to continue to shut them down after this. Thanks, Colt.

      • Erik

        “But, I cannot help but wonder about your comments. Is it possible that you just disagree with John politically, so you misrepresent the whole thing”

        This sentence says it all.

  • MPM

    I think CBS Sports Network, the former CBS College Sports, has a better shot at being competition for ESPN than an NBC Sports. CBS has a much better lineup of sports rights than NBC does. However, ESPN is still the dominent player, and I would have liked to have seen the NHL go back to ESPN.

  • George Bertha

    Also great for us non-ESPN fans!!! Right, John?!

  • Dr. Phibes

    Best news I’ve heard all day.

  • Mike V.

    Great topic John! espn has become an advertising network for itself and the games it shows. Little meaningful news is reported…actually, a lot of meaningless news is reported.

    I’d love to see NBC give them a good swift kick in the butt.