Versus-DirecTV Stalemate Continues In Carriage Dispute


There appears to be very little progress in the carriage dispute between DirecTV and Versus that has kept the sports network off of the top DBS provider for over five months.
Although the parties continue to negotiate, sources indicate they remain far apart on a number of issues, with the impasse now perhaps threatening the National Hockey League's postseason. The puck sports playoff are scheduled to face off in mid-April.
"At this time, Versus is not optimistic that we will have a deal in place by the time the Stanley Cup playoffs begin," a spokesman noted.
DirecTV said there was nothing new to report on the negotiations.
The parties' contract ended on Sept. 1 over pricing and positioning issues, with DirecTV saying Versus was seeking a major hike in its monthly license fee. For its part, the Comcast-owned network has balked at the DBS operator wanting to drop it to a less penetrated level of service.
Despite the loss of DirecTV subscribers, Versus said it enjoyed its best year ever from a Nielsen perspective, as the network attracted some 113 million viewers in 2009, up from 97 million the prior year. The service, which benefited from extended free previews on Dish, as well as in select Time Warner Cable and Cox systems, said it recorded its best ever September, October and November this fall. Those previews rolled off in December.