Versus Not Trying To Be ESPN

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Versus' President, Jamie Davis, talked with the Washington Times recently, and had some interesting things to say about the direction of the network. Among the highlights were discussions about the NHL, and rights that they're trying to acquire, but the most interesting part was the comparison to ESPN. Not only does Davis not agree with the comparison, but he flat out said that Versus isn't interested in copying the "Leader's" model....

A lot of people look at Versus and compare it to ESPN. That may not necessarily be fair, but I'm wondering what the biggest challenges have been so far in getting the viewership and distribution up to that level.

First, I want to be clear that we're not trying to become ESPN. They do a great job, but that's not what we want to become. We are trying to serve a fan base that we believe has been underserved in the past, which is to take certain sports and jump thigh-deep into them and really serve them. We're in over 75 million households; we were in 60 million households when we were the Outdoor Life Network. So the migration has rapidly allowed us to extend our reach. Versus is available to everyone across the country...we weren't like that before, and I think it's because now we've extended our offering. It's become a more broad offering to sports fans and therefore more sports fans have expressed a desire to get Versus. We also launched in December our 24/7 HD channel. Versus HD is in 16 million households already and is continuing to grow.
Obviously there are pros and cons when it comes to competing with ESPN, the main one being that you're starting a race about 100 laps down, but it's about time that someone took a stab at it. Part of the problem with ESPN in recent years was their sheer lack of accountability due to the fact that they're a monopoly. People don't have any other options, so they know they're not going anywhere. Obviously that has changed for the better over the past few years, but another player on their level would make the landscape even better. Competition breeds quality and responsibility.

The article is a good piece about a growing network, and you should check it out if you have the time.

Versus' Jamie Davis (Washington Times)

Posted by Awful Announcing at 1:59 PM

6 Comments:

Versus is picking up the quality of their shows. The hockey coverage has gotten better. I only hope for the best for them.

49er16 said...
Mar 5, 2009, 2:15:00 PM  

It's good that they know their role and who they cater to and are focusing on that.

GMoney said...
Mar 5, 2009, 4:12:00 PM  

I think they're doing a pretty good job. ESPN apparently hates hockey, even with 'The Mullet' back working for them. They spend literally 1 highlight at most per show on the NHL.

Versus has games, decent coverage and then they cover random shit like rodeo, fishing, cycling, etc.

Bazooka Jones said...
Mar 5, 2009, 7:10:00 PM  

Not wanting to be ESPN is a plus. It was clear at the end that ESPN didnt give a sh*t about covering the NHL, interrupting playoff games to show at bats of roided up baseball players, going to Baseball Tonight as soon as a game of the Conference or Stanley Cup
Finals was over, they could barely get the wrapup of the hockey game in.

If ESPN had to other sports what it did to the NHL, their complex in Bristol wouldnt have been standing. ESPN jumped the shark when it cancelled NHL2Night and RPM2Night.

jg said...
Mar 5, 2009, 7:10:00 PM  

What sucks for VS is that they had the NFL Networks package of Thursday/Saturday in their hands but then was ripped out. Look for them to be players as contracts start to expire in the major sports.

VS will also be the home of the IRL this year which is a step up

BPALM said...
Mar 6, 2009, 12:12:00 PM  

ESPN = MTV.

Glad to see that VS. has no interest in losing their way.

Cannot stand to watch SportsCenter anymore either... bunch of Ritalin-deprived douchebags trying too hard to be cool.

MGoBlue93 said...
Mar 25, 2009, 1:54:00 AM  

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