As expected, national cable network
Versus will be rebranded to reflect its membership in the
NBC Sports Group.
The rechristening of Versus as
the NBC Sports Network will take
place on Jan. 2, 2012, as part of a
strategy to bring all four tiers of the
group’s assets — the broadcast network,
national cable networks, regional
sports networks and digital
platforms — into a more consistent branding framework.
“This effort is a major step towards a complete strategic
alignment of all our platforms and businesses,” NBC
Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said. “This is more
than just a name change for Versus. It’s a complete repositioning
of the brand to provide value for marketers, consumers
as well as all our affiliates and distributors. We
want anyone who comes into contact with any of our assets
to immediately connect with the NBC Sports brand
The new year will also ring in a redesign of the NBC
Since Comcast gained a controlling stake in
NBCUniversal from General Electric last January,
the NBC Sports Group has integrated a number of
production and programming elements. In February,
all of the golf broadcasts on NBC were rebranded
as “Golf Channel on NBC.” In April, NBCSports.com
absorbed Versus.com to create a single, online destination
for fans. As for Versus, it adopted the “Inside
the Glass” production philosophy for all its National
Hockey League telecasts, and the two secured a 10-
year, $1.9 billion media rights deal with the league.
Versus has also supported NBC programming with
supplemental horse racing and Notre Dame footballrelated
fare. Moreover, most expect the network to air a
significant amount of Olympic programming from the
2012 London Summer Olympics and through the end of
the decade, via NBC’s $4.4 billion rights deal with the IOC
for the 2014-20 quadrennials.
For Versus, name changes aren’t uncommon. Under
Comcast, the service, which presented an array of field,
stream and outdoor sports action, was initially known as
Outdoor Life Network. In 2005, after the network signed
its initial deal for NHL rights, that name was truncated to
OLN. In September 2006, Versus was adopted to reflect
the further broadening of the network’s focus on competition
(both sports and man-vs.-nature).
The refreshed NBC Sports logo, featuring an evolutionary
design that maintains the equity of its classic predecessor,
will also be implemented on Jan. 2.
NBC Sports Group is timing the Versus rebrand and
the NBC Sports logo redesign to capitalize on the promotional
pulpit of some of its most high-profile events.
On Sunday, Jan. 1, the NFL’s regular season will conclude
with week 17 of Sunday Night Football. On rebrand
day itself, the NHL Winter Classic will air on NBC, which
will air an NFL Wild Card playoff doubleheader on Jan. 7.
Super Bowl XLVI from Indianapolis, which figures to be
the most-watched telecast of 2012 and perhaps all-time,
will provide a massive promotional platform for the new
looks on Feb. 5.
The NBC Sports Group’s 11 regional sports networks,
most of which use the Comcast SportsNet moniker, are
not currently scheduled to be rebranded. However,
Lazarus said, “Many will evolve to have the look and feel
of our NBC Sports brand and production values.”