- Impeach Obama, say 35 percent in new poll
- Taliban yank 14 Shiites off bus, bind and shoot them on Afghan road
- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
- Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros
- Senators: Cease-fire must allow Israel to defend against rockets, tunnels
- Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease
- Iraq welcomes Russian fighter jets, helicopter gunships into ISIL fight
- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
SportsBiz: Dispute likely puts opener on ice
Question of the Day
It appears certain that Washington Capitals fans with DirecTV will have to go to a friend’s house or a bar to see Thursday’s season opener against the Boston Bruins.
The NHL season likely will get under way without a resolution to the dispute that has kept the league’s main television partner, Versus, off DirecTV’s satellite service.
Versus and DirecTV were expected to negotiate through Wednesday evening in an attempt to strike a deal, but the chances of a compromise seemed remote.
“We are working at 110 percent pace to try to get this thing resolved,” Versus president Jamie Davis said. “The two sides are talking, and I’m optimistic that we can reach an amicable solution, but right now DirecTV is unwilling to budge.”
DirecTV dropped Versus from its channel lineup Sept. 1, citing an unwillingness to meet the network’s price to carry it. The move has left about 18 million people without Versus.
Davis has insisted that the dispute is less about cost and more about DirecTV’s desire to place Versus on a tier with less distribution. A move to a more expensive tier would affect about 6 million subscribers, Davis said.
Hockey fans appear to be the primary group caught in the middle. Versus is scheduled to air the Capitals-Bruins game Thursday at 7 p.m., followed by the game between the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks at 10.
“We don’t need any distractions,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said. “They’re in a dumb fight. It’s over money, and there will be no winners. It’s not good for the league. It’s not good for the fans. It’s not good for Versus. And it can’t be good for DirecTV.”
Leonsis, for his part, said he supported Versus in the dispute because the network and its parent company, Comcast, have supported the league financially through broadcast rights deals worth tens of millions of dollars. Leonsis said he canceled his DirecTV service and switched to a month-to-month plan with his cable provider. The NHL has urged fans to contact DirecTV and urge them to carry Versus.
Versus claims that millions of people have switched to competing cable providers or Dish Network in order to receive the channel and that the switches almost have made up for the loss of viewers because of the DirecTV dispute. Meanwhile, the channel said viewership for September was actually up from last year. Davis said more people tuned in as a result of Versus’ coverage of mixed martial arts, college football and the Indy Racing League, plus momentum from summer programming that included the Tour de France.
“The viewers are finding us despite the fact that DirecTV has tuned us out,” Davis said.
DirecTV issued a statement saying it would put the games on while negotiations were ongoing, but Versus has yet to agree to anything.
“The puck is in their end of the rink,” the satellite company said.
About the Author
- First Down: Best weekend bets
- SportsBiz: What the next decade holds
- Shifting sands for NCAA
- Monumental sports year will connect fans on a global scale
- SportsBiz: Selling a new career
Latest Blog Entries
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Evidence shows Russia firing artillery into Ukraine: Pentagon
- Norway expects imminent 'concrete threat' from ISIL terrorists 'within days'
- PRUDEN: The Democratic-wannabe mice under Hillary Clinton's feet
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- ISIL captured 52 U.S.-made howitzers; artillery weapons cost 500K each
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq