New VERSUS President Finally (!) Pushes Back at Naysayers, Including Paul Kelly

We imagine that, if there’s a song on Guns N’ Roses new record Chinese Democracy that new VERSUS President Jamie Baker truly identifies with between his network and the NHL, it’s the fired up “can’t stop us now” attitude of “Scraped”.  Check out these lyrics:

Some may convince you
No one can break through
I’m here to tell you
You’re worth more than they tell you
Don’t you try to stop us now
I just refuse
Don’t you try to stop us now
‘Cause I just won’t let you

It’s got to be hard for anyone at VERSUS to hold themselves up high, what with everyone and their mother speaking out about how you’re killing a beloved, 80-year-old league.  The criticism of VERSUS has long been aimed at the network itself, and not the greedy owners who took Comcast’s money over ESPN’s distribution.  Well, Davis finally spoke out against those who’ve been belittling his network at an industry event recently.

David Goetzl of MediaPost Publications (Free Subscription req.) points out that the mudslinging towards the sports network has come from as high up as NHLPA head-man Paul Kelly: 

“This sport has got to get back on ESPN. The marketing and sponsorship activities will flow from a good, solid national TV contract, which the sport has lacked now for a number of years.”

Ouch.  In this corner, however, Davis responds:

“It’s frustrating for us to read that,” Davis admitted, as he spoke at an industry event. But he added that Versus has “a great relationship with the NHL, and we’re continuing to build the ratings for hockey.” So far this season, he said, ratings are near what ESPN posted in its final year carrying the league, the 2003-04 season.

Say what?  Near ESPN’s ratings in 2003-04?  That’s quite a feat.  It also fully qualifies a return to ESPN as useless.  VERSUS coming close to ESPN’s numbers dictates that VERSUS is easily beating ESPN2’s numbers.  It’s the worst-kept secret in the world that ESPN would likely stick all NHL games (Perhaps even Stanley Cup Final match-ups) on ESPN2, ESPN Classic, and perhaps even ESPNU!

I’m a big supporter of VERSUS.  I really want them to work out.  Right now, I think they are.  Could they get themselves in more homes?  Absolutely, and they need to find a way to penetrate the market further.  But I’m sure as hell not going to tune into Panthers-Coyotes on ESPNU if we head back to Disneyland.

2 Responses to New VERSUS President Finally (!) Pushes Back at Naysayers, Including Paul Kelly

  1. Pingback: Okay, Let’s Talk About This Like Adults: “How ESPN Nearly Destroyed the NHL on TV” or “Why the NHL Should Never Go Back to ESPN” « Puck The Media

  2. Pingback: The Best of Puck the Media: Our Case Against ESPN « Puck The Media

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