Versus is history.
NBCUniversal is expected to announce Monday that it is renaming Versus, Comcast's ratings-challenged 24-hour sports channel, as the NBC Sports Network in January 2012. Versus has had major operations at the Comcast Center in Philadelphia but is now under the control of NBC Sports in New York.
The goal of the Versus name change - and other changes expected to be announced in the coming months - is to make the sports channel more popular with fans so that Comcast can charge higher per-subscriber fees for it.
As part of the overhaul, NBC says the cable channel's broadcasting style and presentation will parallel that of NBC Sports' by emphasizing storytelling and profiles of athletes.
The ownership of both Versus and the Golf Channel were officially transferred to NBCUniversal when Comcast acquired NBCU in a deal with General Electric Co. that closed seven months ago. The Golf Channel name will remain.
The date of the Versus rebranding in January 2012 coincides with NBC's broadcast of NFL wild-card playoff games, the NHL's Winter Classic and the Super Bowl - all games televised by NBC and with big audiences, allowing maximum exposure for on-air promotions to the new name.
NBC says there will be blending of personnel between the NBC broadcast-TV operations and the cable sports channel, and it seems likely that NBC Sports Network will air some of the games from the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London.
NBCU officials say Versus already has benefited from the merger, noting that in the 177 days since it closed, the cable channel's prime-time viewership has doubled.
The new name will be the latest incarnation for a sports channel that began as Outdoor Life, geared toward hunting and fishing. That was eventually shortened to OLN and then Versus in September 2006.
Versus has focused its programming in recent years on professional hockey, bull riding, mixed-martial arts, and the Tour de France bike race.
There will be greater coordination in sports coverage between NBC's broadcast-TV operations and the cable channel, officials say. NBC has the rights to the Triple Crown horse races, Notre Dame football, and many other competitions.
No major changes in personnel are expected with the name change.
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Edited by Krayzie_Bone, 01 August 2011 - 08:28 AM.